Philly’s first Latino deputy police commissioner, Pedro Rosario, tasked with overseeing Kensington

Rosario is the first deputy commissioner to be dedicated to a singular neighborhood in the city’s history.

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Cherelle Parker cheering as she introduces Pedro Rosario at a podium.

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker applauds Deputy Police Commissioner Pedro Rosario, her pick to lead the effort to close down Kensington’s open-air drug markets and the department’s first Latino deputy commissioner. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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The first Latino deputy police commissioner in Philadelphia’s history was sworn in with a singular purpose: to fix the ills of Kensington.

Deputy Commissioner Pedro Rosario took the oath of office at 24/25 District Headquarters, which includes the Kensington neighborhood he’s been tasked with fixing. Rosario said he’s ready for the challenge.

“I am deeply committed to fostering a culture of collaboration where everyone in our community will be heard, will be valued and will be empowered. Together, we can achieve remarkable things, and our success will not only be measured by the goals we reach, but by the positive influence on the people around us.”

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Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said he knew Rosario was the right person for the job when he met him.

Pedro Rosario on stage with Cherelle Parker and Kevin Bethel
Pedro Rosario (center) is sworn in by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel (right) and accompanied by Mayor Cherelle Parker. Rosario is Philadelphia’s first Latino Deputy Police Commissioner and will lead the mayor’s initiative to rid Kensington of open-air drug markets. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“A man who was dedicated to the work, but more importantly dedicated to the community, a man who was a family man. A man who is ready to roll up his sleeves and get the work done.”

Rosario said he wants to make Kensington a place where he would be proud to bring his family, something it isn’t right now.

“What do I think a success is? Let me make it very basic to you. For all the parents, anyone who has driven by Kensington, it’s not something I would want to subject my two daughters to. What makes it OK for it to be happening here?”

The state of emergency executive order signed by Mayor Cherelle Parker on her first day in office gives the police department 100 days to devise a plan for Kensington.

“Kensington for a long time has not been a priority,” Rosario said. “It’s important that now with the leadership that we have in place. We’re moving in that direction to make it a priority.”

Pedro Rosario hugging his wife
Newly minted Deputy Police Commissioner Pedro Rosario embraces his wife during a swearing in ceremony at 24th District police station in Kensington. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

He added that community input will be important in any plan to improve the situation.  As it stands now, there is drug dealing and encampments right at Kensington and Allegheny. Rosario alluded to a “secret plan” that he was holding for a future announcement, and then admitted that he doesn’t have a blueprint yet, but will work on it to improve the place.

Mayor Cherelle Parker spoke to Rosario’s promotion and said she met in private earlier this week with “50 members of the community” without press, to listen to their concerns.  Parker said they heard the “ hopes and aspirations of the good people of this community. It was the kind of meeting quite frankly, that we are going to do in the Parker Administration, again and again, because we want to lead a government that is really listening to the people, a government that people can see, that they can touch and they can feel.”

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She added that she is “super proud” to have Kevin Bethel as police commissioner, and the addition of Rosario is part of a bigger promise to have a “more diverse administration that looks like the people it serves.” Parker called the decision on Rosario “a step in the right direction.”

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