Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey unveiled his new crime fighting strategy on Jan. 30, and three Philadelphia Police districts surrounding Temple have become Target Enforcement Zones under his new plan.
The 22nd district, located at 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue, the 25th district, which extends just east of the Health Sciences Center, and the 26th district, east of Main Campus on Girard Avenue, are three of nine problematic districts where Ramsey’s plan calls for crack-downs. .
Some of the main goals of the plan include a 25 percent reduction in the number of homicides, a 20 percent reduction in the number of shooting victims and an increase of 5 percent in the number of guns taken off the streets.
His plan also calls for 200 additional patrolling police officers, most of whom will be transferred from desk jobs and recruited from the graduating class of the Police Academy. These new officers are set to be patrolling the streets of Philadelphia by May 1 and will use city-wide crime fighting tactics, including the controversial stop-and-frisk practice.
“What the communities would say is that [they] like the idea of improving the quality of life by addressing these smaller issues,” criminal justice adjunct professor William Batty said. “But on the other side, then you do that, then innocent people are stopped, they’re frisked, they’re asked questions and they may view that as harassment.”
Batty, who has also served as a probation supervisor at Bucks County Juvenile Court since 1987, said that when a similar strategy was implemented in New York City, responses varied.
“Only time will tell how some of those nine communities will view the implements,” he said.
Campus Police Capt. Robert Lowell, who spent 12 years serving as both a patrol officer and an investigations officer for the Philadelphia Police Department, said that “sector integrity,” which he explained as the idea of each officer patrolling the same neighborhoods daily so that he or she becomes familiar, is a thing of the past in Philadelphia due to the increased use of officers in too many different communities.
“I think going back to the grassroots getting involved with the people in your sector will have a dramatic effect,” Lowell said. “How that spreads out to the city as a whole will take a little longer, but I think [Ramsey] can have an impact, particularly in that regard.”
Though Temple’s police officers often serve as a sort of extra district to the PPD, Lowell said he does not expect Ramsey to change Temple’s police force.
He said he does, however, expect to meet with Ramsey at some point in the future.
“We have a lot of intelligence in this area, and [Philadelphia Police] utilize us for a lot of that information,” Lowell said. “We’re looking for the commissioner to provide some things to us as well … and we’ll be quick to point out anything we do need.”
Another pivotal goal of Ramsey’s strategy is to reduce the number of homicides in Philadelphia by 30 percent to 50 percent within the next three to five years.
“You can reduce a lot of homicides by the presence of officers on the street,” Lowell said. “If you get there fast enough, you stop an incident before it escalates and someone pulls out a gun.”
Lowell also said Philadelphia needs to crack down on gun crime and that when sources of this epidemic are discovered, severe action should be taken, and that the new system will be good because it lets officers go back to doing what they do best – patrolling the streets.
“I wish him luck,” Lowell said of the new commissioner. “It’s a benefit to everyone in the city to see him succeed. Everybody has a stake in it and hopefully everyone does their part.”
Morgan A. Zalot can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.