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PSA 1 – Facing Tough Issues With a Lot of Heart


L-R Pete Specos, Co-ordinator PSA 1, Lt. Duane Gordon, Capt. Anthony Luca and Ronald Ryan, WalkSafePHL and Town Watch Integrated Services


Captain Luca and Lieutenant Gordon from the 15th Police District met with Frankford, Northwood and Bridesburg residents last Thursday, August 25 at Aria Frankford Hospital. With a standing room only crowd, residents listened to the litany of the crime statistics which they know all too well since they live them. Several residents reported drug houses, prostitution activity, problems with halfway houses, etc.

Burglaries are up in Northwood, shootings and stabbings continue in Frankford and Bridesburg continues to work for more police presence from a District that is the largest in the city and uses what officers and resources they have as strategically as they can.

The police continue to remind us to lock windows and doors to prevent easy access. They do have a suspect they are watching but you have to do more than just arrest them. You need proof and that takes police work and neighbors’ help. A local 7-11 has been robbed 4 times during the overnight hours and most crimes are crimes of opportunity. Police use “Leads on Lines” where pawn shops now have to id those wishing to do business with them and that is sometimes a help. Captain Luca is very much aware of the drug dealers – who they are and where they are. Some recent staffing issues have been, of course, the Democratic National Convention, nationwide police shootings, where for our officers’ sakes, they’ve been assigned 2 to a car so some plainsclothes officers were temporarily reassigned.

Change won’t happen overnight. Many residents realize this and that’s why our civic groups have gotten more active and involved. Town Watch Eyes and Ears – you don’t patrol – you just observe and then call in what you see. We’ve been told if you identify yourself as a Town Watch member calling 911 – that helps. Lt. Gordon promised to come up with a different way to help us report and get action on what we see more quickly. Get trained with your neighbors. Ronald Ryan, Recruiter, for WalkSafePHL and Town Watch Integrated Services, offered to help train residents. Frankford Forward, our community group focused on issues causing violence, can provide meeting space for ongoing training.

Relations between Police and citizens have been in the news consistently. Captain Luca says his officers are motivated and he works to deploy them so they are most effective. Change won’t happen overnight.

But there are signs of hope. Aria Frankford has donated space to have a Police substation located there. This will be used for bike cops to ride up and down Frankford Avenue and some side streets. The current grid is from Penn to Duffield Sts. and from Arrott to Brill Sts. One of the areas of concern had been Margaret and Worth – site of a former drug rehab center. Bob Smiley and I were out delivering The Frankford Gazette and we saw two bike police officers pull up there and just get off their bikes. I don’t think the people there knew what to do. The bike cops have a specific route and so far they have made quite a few arrests – for guns, in particular. One of the guns confiscated was found to be involved in multiple shootings.

The meeting took an interesting turn as the people gathered started talking about what we needed to do to take back our community. The Police alone cannot solve the problem. One resident, Josue, says he comes out and talks with his neighbors. Other residents wanted to see more officers representing the ethnicities of our community. Lt. Gordon and Capt. Luca understood that but they have no control over how officers are assigned. Captain Luca recalled that the role of police officers has changed from a “warrior mentality” back in the 70’s and 80’s to a “guardian mentality” today. Who wouldn’t agree that a police officer is taking his/her life in their hands every day? We would have to admit it can very much be the same way for some of us!

There used to be several places youth could go in the community that are no longer there. Everyone agreed that there was respect for your elders. Parents were concerned that their children’s activities in the neighborhood would reflect on the family and, as a kid, you didn’t want to be guilty of that. Neighbors would tell your parents/grandparents what you were up to and then it all hit the fan. Today, parents are using their children to sell drugs to help support the family. No one really wants to live that way has been said at a few community meetings by people who know. That realization is why the Frankford CDC is working hard to bring more economic development to Frankford Avenue.

Another positive development is that the Police are looking to re-establish a PAL Center in the neighborhood and have the funding to develop and maintain it. A future police vs. youth softball game is in the works, too!

Everyone realized that it must be a “grassroots” effort that takes a community and its people. Would you like to get involved? Here’s just a few of the groups that would warmly welcome you, your friends and family to support their efforts:

  • Neighborhood Advisory Committee Meeting (Zoning), Thursday, Sept. 8, 7 PM, Second Baptist Church, 1801 Meadow St., 19124
  • Frankford Forward, Meets every 2 weeks, Monday, Sept. 19, 6 PM, Presentation on Mental Health First Aid and training that we may be interested in, St. Mark’s Church, 4442 Frankford Ave., 19124
  • Northwood Civic Association Meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 7-8 PM, St. James Church, Castor Ave. and Pratt St., 19124
  • PSA 1 Meeting, Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 PM, Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club, 2901 Bridge St., 19137

There will be a Community Bike Ride in Frankford on September 24 beginning at Aria Frankford Hospital. All are invited! Details below!

Bike Rally Frankford

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Building Bridges For Learning!


A Virginia Beach school reaches out to Frankford

Across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel lies Virginia Beach, VA. I have a friend who is a Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and she is a Digital Learning Resource teacher at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in VA Beach. My friend knows that I will take items people are giving away and find them a good home. One of the fourth grade teachers knew that I had taken materials before and asked me if I would like a classroom set of Reading textbooks as they were updating their books. I said, “Sure”. She decided it would be a good time to clean out her closet as well. Soon, the Assistant Principal learned about this and offered all of the old Reading textbooks, manuals, testing materials and supplementary materials from Kindergarten through Grade 4 – over 400 books. Hmm, what to do? Who would want them?

My husband, Bob, you also know him as the Editor of the Frankford Gazette, told me about Nashid Edwards, the co-founder of Concerned Citizens for a Better Frankford. Nashid and his organization have partnered with Stearne School, to help and support them teaching our neighborhood children. I contacted Nashid to see if he would be interested, he contacted the Principal of Stearne and “Yes” was the answer. These books, posters, big books, flashcards, testing materials, etc., could be used as supplementary materials in school and home.

The next step was figuring out how to bring these materials here. Bob and I would drive our RV down to Virginia Beach, load up the RV and bring them home – to Nashid and Stearne. Little did we know, that St. Gregory staff had heard about our coming for these materials and they decided to “pay it forward” by donating more surplus they no longer needed or used that might help other students. By the time Bob and I arrived in Virginia Beach, I think this picture tell the story. Make sure you look down the hallway on the right. There were even boxes behind those yellow doors.

Size of donation

Bob and I could only bring one-half of all of these materials back in our RV. There were 2 tons by the time these generous souls had gathered and boxed up everything. The joy each felt that these materials would be used and would continue to encourage students’ learning was something to see and something never to forget. We packed up our RV and headed home. (At some point we must return to bring up the rest of the “goodies”.)

When we returned, Nashid and his organization were ready to unload, sort and put everything to good use. But every good story has a “back story”. On the way down to Virginia

(l-r) Nashid Edwards, Richard Cook, Pete Specos and Wayne Sledge

(l-r) Nashid Edwards, Richard Cook, Pete Specos and Wayne Sledge

Beach, Bob slipped and fell on some oil at a gas station and injured his neck damaging some nerves that affect his eating, drinking and speech. As I write this story, he’s in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for diagnosis and treatment. We are confident of a full recovery and are grateful for all the prayers and support of family and friends.

Wayne Sledge, member of the 1st graduating class in 1968

Richard Cook, member of the 1st graduating class in 1968

As Bob didn’t feel well, Pete Specos, was kind enough to drive the RV (I could drive through the Bay Bridge Tunnel but I wasn’t confident of some of our very narrow Frankford streets) down to Stearne to make the final delivery.

When St. Joachim RC Church closed last summer, many of the parishioners stayed together because of our sense of community. We organized and titled a new nonprofit organization, Keep the Faith in Frankford. This was not just about our church but about ourselves and believing that we can mkae a difference right where we are. We believe that and Concerned Citizens for A Better Frankford believe that, too. I titled this story to show that from start to finish, this was an effort and collaboration between organizations and people who did not know each other but who are in the business of building strong minds. This can only happen if we work together for the good of all of our children.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel photo:


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15th District PSA1 meeting miscommunications the center of June Frankford Civic Association Meeting

At the Frankford Civic Association meeting held this past Thursday, discussion centered on the groups’ frustrations with the Police 15th District Public Service Area 1 (PSA1) meetings. Attendence included a representative from Democratic nominee for the 179th State House Jason Dawkins, and several residents of East Frankford. Although PSA meetings are meant to be a venue for the police and residents to engage and understand, Frankford Civic president Pete Specos says they’ve been unable to hold a meeting for a couple months and that there’s been limited communication with the 15th district Captain, John McCloskey.

20140610 Frankford Civic Meeting

Specos said he has been unable to get in touch with the captain or lieutenant of the 15th police district. Specos told the assembled, “at the last PSA meeting, no one showed up. The one before it, at 10 after 8, the lieutenant walks in when everyone is walking out.” Specos says he was told it was a miscommunication. “This is becoming disrespectful. Now at the PSAs, no one shows up, cause they know the police won’t show up.” Specos says he’s been trying to call for another meeting,”but it’s like pulling teeth”.

Several residents of East Frankford were at the civic to discuss police related matters. A resident that lives by the playground field at Harding High School. says he’s it’s being used by dirt bikes and ATVs. “It’s only going to get worse as we get further into the summer” he told the civic.

Another resident said that he’s seen biker gang patches at Timmy’s Place. Residents also would like the police to put a camera at Worth and Orthodox.

Specos says the community has been damaged because residents now won’t go to a PSA meeting because they don’t think the police will show up.

Specos said the next PSA 1 meeting is scheduled for June 26th at 7 pm at Frankford Aria Hospital, however, on the 15th District website, the meeting is shown as being held on June 19th at 7 pm.


The next civic association meeting is being pushed back a week from it’s regular schedule because of the July 4th holiday. The Frankford Civic Association will meet on the 2nd floor at Aria Frankford Hospital at 7 pm onThursday July 10th.