State Rep. Jared Solomon Calls for Major Overhaul of Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office

A state representative from Northeast Philadelphia is calling for an overhaul of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, accusing Sheriff Rochelle Bilal of “administrative misconduct” that is causing people to “lose confidence in all government.”

State Rep. Jared Solomon first made his comments last week on social media platform X after the Inquirer published a report about massive delays in transferring property deeds following sheriff-led sales.

That process used to take about six to eight weeks after the sale. But under Bilal, it can now take seven months or longer. Some buyers who were told at the auction that they should receive the deed within 90 days are still waiting for deeds to properties they bought last year.

The sheriff has not provided a public explanation for the recent delays in the deed. Several buyers and their agents who have called or visited the office have also been unable to get an answer.

” READ MORE: They bought properties at sheriff’s sales in Philadelphia but never got the deed

Solomon said in an interview that the Sheriff’s Office, which has a history of scandal and corruption dating back to the mid-1800s, continues to be a “disaster” under Bilal, a former police officer now serving her second term as sheriff.

In addition to recent delays in deeding, most sales of delinquent properties have been on hold since 2021, costing the city tens of millions of dollars in uncollected taxes and contributing to financial ruin.

“It seems so ministerial and bureaucratic in nature. Why can’t we do that?” Solomon asked. “Our communities deserve so much more.”

Solomon, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general in the April primary, said the dysfunction in the sheriff’s office is contributing to voter apathy at a time when Mayor Cherelle L. Parker is pushing an ambitious agenda to improve the quality of life in Philadelphia.

“When people don’t feel heard or don’t feel like their government is working in a meaningful way, they stop listening,” he said. “Now we have a mayor who understands that government is about results and tangible improvements for the community.”

A spokesman for Parker declined to comment.

Andrew McGinley, Vice President of External Affairs at Committee of Seventy The good-government group said the deeds recording problem is “yet another disappointing event in a long history of misconduct by the Sheriff’s Office and further underscores the need for reform of the office.”

The Committee of Seventy for years called on the City Council to adopt the proposed amendment to the City Self-Government Charter — which would require voter approval — to eliminate the Sheriff’s Office as an independently elected office and transfer its responsibilities to other city departments.

“Not only does the office appear to have no regard for ethical and proper conduct, but it has been repeatedly shown to be incapable of performing even the most basic functions, which undermines the very reason it exists,” McGinley said.

Another option would be for Harrisburg to take action, Solomon said: “At the state level, you can impeach any civilian official.”

Spokespeople for state House leaders declined to comment on Monday.

Privately, City Hall employees have long expressed frustration with Bilal’s office. Publicly, however, the sheriff rarely faces any scrutiny.

In March, Parker told attendees at her first budget speech in the City Council chamber to give Bilal “a huge round of applause.” The following month, at a budget hearing, Council Speaker Kenyatta Johnson thanked Bilal “for his hard work, dedication and partnership with the members of the Council and the City of Philadelphia.”

Johnson’s spokesman, Vincent Thompson, said Friday that the council leader was busy responding to the July 4 mass shooting in Kingsessing and could not comment on Solomon’s comments about the sheriff.

Thompson said Monday that Johnson was not available for comment. He referred questions to the sheriff’s office.

Bilal’s spokeswoman, Teresa Lundy, said little on Tuesday about the calls for reform.

“As for responding to Rep. Solomon: good luck,” Lundy wrote in an email.


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