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!