Since 1992, the mission of the Public Nuisance Task Force (PNTF) Unit has been to assist Philadelphia residents and community groups combat drug and alcohol-related nuisance problems in their neighborhoods. Part of the District Attorney's Office Special Operations Division, PNTF actively engages citizens, the police, government agencies and community groups in an effort to abate or close drug houses, weed (marijuana) stores, nuisance bars and houses of prostitution. By working together, these public nuisances are alleviated and a community can live in peace.
PNTF consists of several prosecutors assigned to different geographic regions of the city. Upon receiving a complaint of nuisance activity from the community, either by way of direct community group or individual contact or on the Unit's hotline, the PNTF Assistant District Attorney assigned to that region of Philadelphia will begin, where appropriate, by sending an official letter warning the owner of the residence or business that if the property is being used in violation of the Controlled Substances Act (or, "Drug Act"), the Liquor Code or other laws or ordinances, it potentially can be seized, sealed and/or forfeited. The property may also be referred to an appropriate law enforcement or administrative agency, so that they can conduct an appropriate investigation, an administrative inspection or some other fact-gathering activity.
If the owner of the property takes insufficient or no action to abate the nuisance activity, PNTF will seek to abate or close the nuisance location through civil injunction, asset forfeiture, habitability condemnation, and/or negotiation where appropriate.
At each juncture of the investigation/prosecution, the assigned Assistant District Attorney will update the complainant individual or community group with the progress of the case. In cases involving nuisance bar prosecutions, or where PNTF engages in negotiations with the property owner(s), residents or group members may also be directly involved by testifying about nuisance activity emanating from the location or by working with the property owner to take corrective measures to eliminate the nuisance-causing problems.
Some nuisances are outside of PNTF's jurisdiction, including neighborhood disputes, loud noise, abandoned vehicles, abandoned houses and vacant lots. If contacted about this type of nuisance, the assigned PNTF Assistant District Attorney will refer the complaint to the appropriate city agency (Licenses & Inspections, Health Department, Human Relations Commission, etc.) for assistance.
Since its inception, PNTF has seized, sealed and/or forfeited scores of drug houses, weed stores and nuisance bars. The properties are auctioned to the public resulting in the improvement of the quality of life in the community. For a listing of the properties that will be included in the next auction, please refer to our Auctions section.
To report a drug house or any other nuisance or for further information, please contact PNTF by calling the 24-hour hotline at (215) 686-5858. Any caller may choose to remain anonymous.