Two potentially fatal threats to public safety were defused this week with help from that very public. Law enforcement agencies say they would appreciate more help in solving crimes.
Public help was essential in the arrest of a boy who was trying to rob people at gunpoint in West Philadelphia. It also led to the apprehension of a man riding the Market Frankford El with an assault weapon, a bayonet and drugs.
John Appeldorn of the Citizens Crime Commission says people often want to tell what they know but are afraid.
“What they are afraid of is somebody in the neighborhood, maybe a relative or whatever the case, maybe has ill feelings and comes back at them and they become the victim,” he says.
In City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s district, a man was arrested after the assault of an elderly committeewoman and her son.
Blackwell says she believes more people are speaking out.
“I think we’ve reached that point in our history in this city that people now are realizing they have to speak up,” she said Thursday. “They have no recourse, you can’t live in fear, so you’ve got to do what you can to get that person off the street who is hurting people.
“You have to be willing to come out and say who it is,” she said. “I think we are finally there.”
Appeldorn says for the right reasons, whether it’s money or other motivation, people will call the crime commission’s anonymous hotline and get a code number to collect any rewards.
“We had a couple of them where the individual was so strung out on drugs, where family members actually called to get them help,” he says. “They weren’t necessarily interested in a reward at that point. The other (reason) is they just do it because they need the cash.”
Philadelphia police have also set up PPDTIPS for cell-phone users to safely text information to police. In four months, 650 tips were reported.