Temple students share thoughts on Cherelle Parker’s public safety emergency, other executive orders

Mayor Cherelle Parker declared a public safety emergency after her inauguration and signed three executive orders, two of which aim to crack down on crime.

Earlier this month, Mayor Cherelle Parker declared a public safety emergency and signed three executive orders, two aiming to crack down on crime | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Dylan Rush was never overly concerned about public safety problems near Temple’s Main Campus until a Temple employee was stabbed on the 1000 block of Montgomery Avenue on Jan. 16, the first day of the Spring semester.

“Usually crime occurs on the opposite side of Broad Street, so the fact that it was that close to me and it was unprovoked and it was so violent,” said Rush, a junior marketing major who lives in Vantage. “It’s not just a fight, it was a literal stabbing, so that kind of shook me a little bit.”

New Philadelphia mayor Cherelle Parker declared a public safety emergency following her inaugural address on Jan. 2 at The Met Philadelphia, challenging politicians and residents to unite in improving the city. As Temple students begin their Spring semester, many are wary about the state of public safety in Philadelphia.

Former Mayor Jim Kenney refused to declare a safety emergency while in office. The directive requires the police commissioner to submit a report within 30 days outlining a procedure to decrease violent crime in the initial 100 days of administration. 

Parker, the first woman and Black woman to lead the city, also discussed prioritizing solutions for ongoing issues, like  drugs  in Kensington. Parker signed three executive orders that focused on crime reduction, responsive city government and easing barriers to city employment. 

The Temple University Police Department is facing recruitment challenges amid a national police shortage and is working to increase its force. Parker supports stop-and-frisk as a tool to combat gun violence, with zero tolerance for misuse of authority.

Some students, like Rush, are hopeful Parker can help Temple’s Police Department.

“I feel like Philadelphia Police should also help a little bit, especially since a lot of what happens is like really close to campus and starts really on campus,” Rush said. “So Temple Police can only really go so far and do so much.” 

Philadelphia’s new police commissioner Kevin Bethel, appointed by Parker, is collaborating with TUPD to enhance shared resources and patrols around Main Campus. The collaboration stems from a five-pillar plan initiated after an audit of Temple’s campus safety efforts. 

Michaela Kaskey, a senior social work major, wasn’t initially interested in voting for Parker because of the mayor’s pro-police approach to handling public safety issues within the city. 

“I was very hesitant about the very pro-police approach that she has and what she was saying about going into Kensington and working with individuals with addiction and stuff like that,”  Kaskey said. “So for me, that was kind of the deterrent, I’d say.”

However, Kaskey voted for Parker when presented with the choice between Parker or Republican candidate David Oh. 

Parker affirmed her stance on further supporting law enforcement during the Democratic party debate on April 25, 2023, including stop-and-frisk policies like the “Terry Stop.” The phrase originates from the 1968 case Terry vs. Ohio, allowing police to detain and search individuals they reasonably suspect of a crime, especially if they believe the person is armed and dangerous.

Connor McKean, a senior media studies and production major, worked as security detail for the Jan. 2 inauguration. The event had heavy security precautions in place and dozens of bike-cops were set to patrol even the outside of the building during the event, McKean said. 

“When it comes to our security on campus, it’s nice enough as a campus, obviously there haven’t been too many bad things happening near or around it this year so far in comparison to last year,” McKean said. “I feel fairly safe, but I’m sure I’ve talked to a lot of my friends who don’t share that same sentiment.”

The new mayor signed another executive order to increase economic opportunities for residents by eliminating obstacles to city employment, like the removal of college degree requirements for certain positions.

“I thought eliminating college degree requirements was great, a lot of jobs don’t really need a college degree to be done,” said Jaiman Kondisetty, a sophomore accounting major. “So that opens up jobs to way more people, makes it way more easier for City Hall to hire people, and allows more people to have access to a stable income.”

Students like McKean are hopeful about the declaration and hope the city takes these promises seriously. 

“I hope there’s meaning behind it,” McKean said. “I definitely think it is something that she is serious about, I hope it’s something that she is serious about. Especially as the college population is not necessarily just Temple, but other schools in the city too.”

Kaskey views the crisis declaration as a preformative and empty promise to the city to reduce violent crime. Many families and students probably saw Parker’s emphasis on crime-busting and voted for her because of that, Kaskey said. 

As of Jan. 23, there have been 19 homicides this year, 44 nonfatal shootings and 19 fatal, according to The Office of the Controller. 

“I think a lot of times with politicians, it’s empty promises, it’s just whatever is gonna get them into the position of power and whatever their personal agenda is,” Kaskey said. “So unfortunately, I don’t think it’s necessarily going to take us in a direction that will actually promote public safety in Philadelphia.”

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