Northwest Philadelphia residents are mourning the departure of Capt. Joel Dales, who was recently promoted to staff inspector after two years with the police department’s 14th District.
Most of all, they said they will miss the visibility, responsiveness and personal touch that the 22-year veteran brought to one of the city’s largest and most violent districts.
“I wish he weren’t leaving,” said Elayne Bender, executive director of East Mt. Airy Neighbors. “He’s a genuinely nice man who’s really concerned about the safety of the community and the growth of both the residential and business community.”
Rev. Chester Williams, who runs the Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club in Germantown, was also sad to learn that Dales was leaving the post. He said he particularly valued the degree to which Dales made himself available to the community.
“He had an open-door policy,” said Williams. “You can come in anytime and speak to him about anything.”
Asked if he thought the district was safer during Dales’ tenure, Williams didn’t miss a beat: Yes.
“It’s quiet and people are coming out on their porches more now. They’re involved in cleaning up more now, because they feel safe,” he said. “I’m grateful that he did those things in our community and it doesn’t seem like it was a struggle for him, like he really enjoys helping people.”
Sending him off with gratitude
To show his appreciation, Williams whipped together a small send-off party Thursday night inside district headquarters on Haines Street.
Dee Eason, a longtime Germantown resident, was among those who made sure to stop by.
As she held a turquoise-enveloped Thank You card, Eason commended Dales for being a “neighbor-oriented police captain.”
“He has come to our block, and specifically to my home, when we had a block meeting to talk about the issues that concerned us. Not just criminal issues, but quality of life issues,” said Eason. “I thought that was very good for a police captain to relate to us on that level.”
“You don’t always know if you’re going to get that kind of cooperation,” she added.
Dales’ first day in his new position will be Monday. A department-wide promotional ceremony was held at Temple University on Friday morning. There, 39th District Capt. Verdell Johnson was promoted to a yet-announced position off the Northwest Philadelphia beat.
NewsWorks will interview Dales about the move for an uncoming story which will include more information about Johnson’s transfer and the captains’ replacements.