Members of the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch met and discussed the issues affecting their communities with the new head of the 14th Police District, Captain Sekou Kinebrew.
Kinebrew took the helm of the city’s second largest precinct just two months ago. While he may be filling a new role, as a former resident of Germantown and West Mt. Airy, a 19-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, and a graduate of Masterman High School and LaSalle University, he is no stranger to the neighborhoods he serves. Still, Kinebrew said he wants to get to know the people he serves personally.
“I was looking forward to establishing relationships and getting to know the people,” he said. “Every day I look at dots on a screen showing where the crime is, but there’s no replacement — no substitute — for actually putting a face to the incident.”
During the Thursday evening meeting, Kinebrew talked to residents about things they can do to make themselves safer, and listened as neighbors aired their grievances about everything from overflowing trash at a nearby Acme supermarket to unruly neighborhood pets.
According to Kinebrew, the biggest issue in the cluster of neighborhoods covered by the town watch group is not violent crime, it’s property crime. Kinebrew attributed a portion of the property crimes occurring in the area to resident’s tendency to have a false perception of safety and warned against leaving valuable items in cars, having alarm systems but not setting them, or leaving doors unlocked at residences — all actions that could make residents easy targets for property crime.
“I do recommend guarding yourselves to the best of your ability,” he said.
But Kinebrew also encouraged residents to call the police and report any problem they experience, no matter how small, further emphasizing that property crime experienced in one part of the district is just as important as violent crime experienced in another.
“Everybody’s needs are a little bit different but nobody’s needs outweigh the others’,” he said. “Some might say, where I have my shootings, that’s a bigger problem. But anyone’s biggest problem is where they live. So, I don’t care if something as simple as a broken window, that’s an issue if that’s the issue at hand.”
Juanita Bradley was one of some 25 residents who attended the meeting, which she felt, was very productive. Bradley said she was “very optimistic” about Kinebrew taking over the department.
Town watch leader, Steve Stoiman, lauded Kinebrew for his effort to connect with the group and hear the issues that concern them.
“His whole attitude is one of inclusiveness,” he said. “It’s not just a ‘catch the bad guy’ thing for him, it’s about community protection. What I see from Captain Kinebrew, so far, is a broadening of what the definition of safety means, and I think it’s great.”