One resident summarized the situation concisely: It’s not often you witness a community rally around a transferred police captain.
At an “emergency” meeting held Thursday evening, members of A Concerned Community Association agreed to support efforts already underway to lobby for the return of Capt. John McCloskey to his former position as commanding officer of the 35th Police District.
A sprawling district that is headquartered at Broad and Champlost streets, the 35th includes Logan, Fern Rock, and sections of West Oak Lane. ACCA represents the Ogontz and Belfield neighborhoods.
As reported by the Daily News, McCloskey allegedly participated in the quashing of an arrest report in July at the behest of his supervisor, Inspector Aaron Horne, commanding officer of the Northwest Police Division.
After an Internal Affairs investigation, Horne and McCloskey both received 30-day suspensions from Commissioner Charles Ramsey and were transferred to new positions. Horne went to the Forensics Bureau, McCloskey to Command Inspections Bureau, known as night command.
In light of this, 35th District residents have begun organizing to plead for the return of McCloskey, who joined the PPD in 1978 and has spent more than 20 years of his career in the 35th District at various ranks, according to his PPD biography.
A ‘touchy situation’
Spearheading the efforts is Eric Brice, communications director for the 35th District Town Watch. He spoke at Thursday’s ACCA meeting, and has been instrumental in building the “35th District Community Leadership Alliance,” an umbrella organization for community groups advocating for McCloskey.
“It’s a very touchy situation,” Brice observed, recognizing the obstacles that PPD leaders face in balancing community relations with the need for departmental transparency.
Brice said he will be meeting with Ramsey today to present the case for McCloskey, emphasizing the displaced commander’s experience policing the 35th.
“He knows where the hiding spots are,” Brice said. “He knows what doors to knock on, what alleys to ride up.”
In addition, there’s McCloskey’s experience working with the neighborhood.
“Capt. McCloskey, over the years, has nurtured relationship throughout this entire district with individuals, community leaders, and business owners,” said Brice. “To me, what a police department desires to have is some type of rapport between its officers and the community that makes everybody work together and keep the community safe.”
Brice is currently circulating letters of support to residents who are interested in helping get McCloskey back. His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
“I spoke with the captain today,” he said. “He was really touched. He didn’t know he had this kind of support.”
‘A call to arms’
Brice’s words of praise were echoed by several others in a meeting room at Love Missionary Church on the cusp of East Germantown at 5801 Ogontz Ave.
Sandra Broadus, president of ACCA, said that there is now “a call to arms in the 35th.”
Noting that tensions can escalate in “the snap of a finger,” Broadus said the community can’t bear novice police trying to learn a new district who are “unfamiliar with the lay of the land.”
To prevent this, the members of her organization will be reaching out to neighbors with pro-McCloskey literature and petitions.
“We’re going to get this information out there, and give people the choice of supporting this or not,” Broadus said. “I personally hope that you all see the value in a police captain who supports our community, even though he may have erred.
“There are a lot of problems, but there’s a lot of peace,” she said, attributing the latter to McCloskey. “We can’t ignore that, and we can’t let it go away.”