Philadelphia’s 39th Police District Captain transfers to Civil Affairs

Captain Stephen Glenn, Commanding Officer of the 39th Police District in Philadelphia, has been transferred, Police Department spokespersons confirmed this week. The 39th Police District covers East Falls and sections of Germantown and North Philadelphia.

His final day as commanding officer was Monday, December 19th. He was replaced by Captain Verdell Johnson, formerly of the Accident Investigation District.

Glenn’s new assignment is as commander of the Civil Affairs Unit (CAU), which has primary enforcement responsibilities at public assemblies, demonstrations and management-labor disputes.

The CAU, led by Captain William Fisher, was the lead agency in liaising with members of Occupy Philadelphia.

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“It was a great time – I was honored to be there, and I’ll miss it,” said Glenn of his former command, adding that it was “the best six-and-a-half years of his career.”

He praised the talents and experience of incoming Capt. Johnson, and proclaimed that the district is in very capable hands.


Glenn’s background

Glenn has been commanding officer of the 39th since 2005. Prior to his assignment to the 39th, Glenn served in the Homicide Division, the Southwest Detective Division, and the Command Inspections Bureau.

Though long-accustomed to the rigors of policing, 2011 has been a trying year for Captain Glenn.

As reported by Newsworks, Captain Glenn was involved in a hit-and-run accident while on night duty in August.

He sustained minor injuries and quickly resumed his duties.

In addition, the 39th District’s hundred-year-old, Hunting Park Avenue headquarters experienced an outbreak of mold in its locker rooms, which garnered local media attention in October


Reaction to Glenn’s departure

Many residents of the 39th District were dismayed by news of Glenn’s transfer.

“This is a loss for us,” says Meg Greenfield, 1st Vice-President of East Falls Community Council (EFCC) and member of the East Falls Traffic Committee.

“He was wonderful with us,” she said, noting that Glenn was an ongoing presence at community meetings, and that he never shied away from addressing safety issues, which she emphasized are important to community residents.

In addition, she praised his accessibility and accountability to the EFCC. “He has been open with us,” said Greenfield, “it will be hard to fill his shoes.”


Why Glenn was transferred

Captain Glenn said that it was for the benefit of the CAU, to aid in the transition before Capt. Fisher retires.

Police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers expanded upon this, noting that the CAU is a prestigious assignment, serving as “a prominent voice of the department.”

“The unit needs someone who has strong intercommunication skills and can get along with all groups,” explained Lt. Evers.

While commanding a patrol district is similarly prestigious, sources familiar with Philadelphia Police Department operations affirmed that Captain Glenn’s transfer to a headquarters unit is not, as it is known in the NYPD, “a lateral transfer with a dip.”

The 39th District is known in PPD parlance as an “A” district – a police district with higher volume of incidents, or as one source put it, “a hotbed of activity.”

Owing to the concomitant increases in workload, Captains assigned to these districts receive a 6% raise, according to Lt. Evers.

This pay cut will be offset by the fact that Glenn’s new workday will adhere to a typical 8-hour shift.

There will be fewer crises – and no community meetings to attend.


The 39th District’s new leader

Filling his shoes is Captain Verdell Johnson, a 23-year PPD veteran who once served as sergeant under Capt. Glenn in the Southwest Detective Division.

Capt. Johnson’s other previous assignments include the Narcotics Unit, Command Inspections Bureau, and as a temporary Commanding Officer in the 14th District, which covers Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy and Germantown.

Capt. Johnson, currently on vacation, will commence his duties in January.

Johnson said that he hopes to continue the strides made by Glenn and build upon them, and to continue what he sees as the single aspect fundamental to good policing – safety.

“Throughout my career,” said Capt. Johnson, “I’ve always looked forward to the fact that we as police officers help civilians feel safe in their homes.”

Revised with the correct name of the former head of the Civil Affairs Unit.

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