Ellington homicide prompts new police-patrol approach in Penn-Knox

 A recent high-profile homicide prompted a larger-than-normal turnout at the 39th Police District PSA meeting in Germantown. (Lauren Gruber/for NewsWorks)

A recent high-profile homicide prompted a larger-than-normal turnout at the 39th Police District PSA meeting in Germantown. (Lauren Gruber/for NewsWorks)

At a Tuesday night community meeting, about 20 residents voiced concerns about a recent homicide and increased crime emanating from a known drug area in the Penn-Knox section of Germantown.

The 39th District’s monthly PSA1 meeting featured a three-officer panel led by Sgt. Colleen Michevech, who assured residents that patrols have been increased in the area near where Wayne Ellington Sr. was fatally shot earlier this month.

The trio also discussed a new plan which they hope will lead to reduced crime in the area.

One resident noted that the slaying of Ellington, whose namesake son plays professional basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers, brought newcomers to the meeting.

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Michevech noted that the killing could possibly have been a drug-related crime.

By the numbers

In the past two weeks, three people have been arrested in or around Marion and Hansberry streets in Penn-Knox. There was also a recent gun arrest there, Michevech said.

“We’re up there doing what we can for you,” she said. “I’m up there all night long. These police officers are up there from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., the most busiest times that activity goes on there.”

Officers are also patrolling the area — with two cars when possible — during the day, she said.

However, one resident responded that residents have sought police help for years, the drug-bazaar area is still “swarming” with activity and she sees one officer there during the daytime.

Michevech said she would take these complaints to the district’s brass, but that the frequency of 9-1-1 calls during the day could limit visibility there.

“When you say call 9-1-1, we all agree with that,” said Catherine Adams, who lives nearby. “We wish we could call 9-1-1 every single time we saw a drug purchase because we all see it daily to the point where we can’t stop our life enough to make all the 9-1-1 calls.”

A new plan

Michevech said she will in January start covering day shift in the PSA, which is the portion of the 39th District encompassing the entirety of East Falls and adjacent sections of Germantown and Nicetown.

She told attendees that 39th District Lt. Christopher Wagenhoffer established a new patrolling grid from Logan Street to Queen Lane between Germantown and Wayne aves. in the days since Ellington’s homicide.

“Instead of taking PSA as a whole, we’re going to cut it down into little parts,” she said. “We’re going to solve a problem in each grid of the PSA until the problems are done.”

Since Hansberry and Marion sts. remain primary concerns, tactical and plain-clothes officers will be in the mix as well.

Mary Jane Fullam, president of East Falls Town Watch, said the meeting featured a good energy.

“It’s requires an awful lot of patience and faith. I don’t see the results I’m promised sometimes, but I don’t always hold the police responsible for that,” she said.

For her part, Michevech is optimistic the new patrolling grid will prove effective.

“Hopefully, everybody’s happy with what they heard and they can start helping themselves and we can start helping them also,” she said.

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