Temple Police maintains relationship with new PPD leadership

Amid the declaration of a public safety emergency, TUPD will continue to share resources and supplemental patrols with the city.

As PPD undergoes changes in staff and policies under the new mayoral administration, TUPD may come to see similar changes. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

As Philadelphia begins the new year with a new police commissioner, the Temple University Police Department will continue working with the Philadelphia Police Department to increase and improve shared resources and patrols on and around Main Campus.

Mayor Cherelle Parker, who was sworn into office on Jan. 1, tapped Kevin Bethel to serve as PPD’s commissioner. Temple Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin knew Bethel before his name was floated for the position, and the two have talked multiple times leading up to and following his appointment, Griffin said.

Bethel and Griffin are setting up a formal meeting to discuss how the two agencies will co-police Temple’s patrol zone, work through safety issues and share resources.

“It’s a good relationship,” Griffin said. “We continue to work on it and see how we can work together. I’ve worked as a police officer for 24 years, and I’m extremely happy with our relationship and their response. When we need something we call, and it’s the same thing for them.”

The Department of Public Safety has received city-wide supplemental patrols from PPD since Temple released the results of a 131-page audit of its campus safety efforts conducted by former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and his organization, 21CP Solutions. The increased collaboration was part of a five-pillar plan that Griffin devised following the audit release.

TUPD and DPS have also moved forward with a number of new joint initiatives with PPD during the academic year. TUPD was granted access to the agency’s 800 MHz public safety radio system at the end of the Fall semester, which officers have been using out on patrols, Griffin said.

Temple now also has access to 140 PPD cameras within the patrol zone to help respond to and investigate incidents.

“That’s helpful for incidents that we might be responding to that we don’t have cameras because it’s not on campus, but our dispatchers and detectives now have access to those,” Griffin said.

A majority of the calls TUPD responds to are not university-related because they are either in PPD’s jurisdiction or they are thefts located in retail businesses that aren’t Temple-owned but within the patrol zone, Griffin told The Temple News in October 2023. 

PPD’s supplemental patrols also aid Temple’s response to incidents on night and weekend shifts. During a supplemental patrol, PPD begins their shift in DPS’ headquarters to get briefed by a supervisor, receive a radio and receive stat sheets, Griffin said. They then conduct their shift with a TUPD radio and are able to get dispatched and respond to Temple calls.

Officers on supplemental patrols will also conduct foot patrols, business place checks and traffic enforcement, including engagement in the Broad and Cecil B. Moore area, where DPS has had recent challenges, Griffin said.

“We work hand in hand so I’m very pleased with the relationship,” Griffin said. “I’m looking forward to working with the new mayor and the new commissioner in 2024.”

Hours after Parker was inaugurated and Bethel stepped into the role, the new mayor signed an executive order that declared a citywide public safety emergency to develop a plan to address crime in the city.

Parker said after her inauguration the city would use every available resource in neighborhoods struggling with crime, gun violence, drugs and addiction. The declaration directs Bethel, Philadelphia’s managing director Adam Thiel and other city officials to create a plan within 100 days to reduce crime and hire more officers.

“Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel, he’s going to deliver plans for those crises and other crimes like car theft, shoplifting, yes that retail theft and the illegal use of ATVs that diminish our quality of life,” Parker said in her Jan. 2 inaugural address. “We are going to use a holistic approach to end in our city, the crime, particularly the quality of life crimes that we have seen increase.”

Griffin believes it’s too early to know if the effects of the public safety emergency or any potential funding would “trickle down” to Temple, but the goal is to develop a strategic plan to coordinate and focus more of the resources in the most challenged areas, she said.

PPD’s 22nd District, which encompasses Temple, is often regarded as one of the busiest districts in the city. 

Adam Garber, the executive director of CeaseFirePA, an advocacy group that works to address gun violence in Pennsylvania, believes developing a comprehensive plan and identifying additional resources will be critical.

Though the declaration won’t necessarily unlock new funding, Garber thinks Parker is sending a message that public safety is a priority for her administration. 

“I don’t think any of us could have expected Mayor Parker to turn around the city in one single day, but I think that this shows her commitment and dedication and focus on ensuring everyone can live and play and learn freely and safely here in Philadelphia,” Garber said.

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