By Joe Holden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the most high-profile law enforcement officials in the Philadelphia area is stepping down on Friday. U.S. Attorney William McSwain announced his resignation last week and is speaking exclusively to Eyewitness News.

After three years as U.S. Attorney for nine counties in eastern Pennsylvania, McSwain wraps it up on Friday.

His resignation is a routine departure, timed with the arrival of a new administration in Washington.

The interview included what this law and order prosecutor viewed as his biggest achievements. At the top of the list was the successful fight to block safe heroin injection sites.

“There’s not a single neighborhood in Philadelphia that wants a heroin injection site in their neighborhood,” McSwain said. “That’s why we saw such uproar.”

McSwain leaves at a time when, he says, Philadelphia is on a disastrous course with violent crime.

He acknowledged cooperation with the Philadelphia Police Department. However, he’s most critical of another prosecutor across town — District Attorney Larry Krasner.

“I think what makes me proudest is that the office really stood in the last three years for being a counterweight to some of the, I’ll describe, as lawlessness and the culture of lawlessness that was, I think, developing in Philadelphia,” McSwain said. “And we are a counterweight for that in a lot of different areas, but in particular, I think, in violent crime.”

McSwain often locked horns with Krasner.

“We have different philosophies about what needs to be done. I think that it’s a nonpartisan issue that public safety is really important,” McSwain said. “But we’re going through, right now, in Philadelphia, in what I describe as a radical criminal justice experiment on the local level. I think there needs to be some recognition by the people that are pushing that radical experiment, that the experiment isn’t working.”

The DA’s Office welcomed McSwain’s resignation last week, writing, they hope his successor has a sense of humanity.

“I don’t think anything we’ve done in this office over the last three years has been politicized, honestly,” McSwain said. “What we were doing was enforcing the rule of law.”

With McSwain’s plans to resign, he now heads back to private practice.

The DA’s Office said in a statement, “We are hopeful that the next U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District will be an honest partner in working to ensure safety and justice for all people in Philadelphia County.”


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