Philly police adding more officers to work the weekends

The new unit will supplement patrols and give police on the beat backup over the weekend.

A police car on 56th Street in West Philadelphia.

A police car on 56th Street in West Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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You might see more police on Philadelphia streets on the weekend.

The department announced plans Friday to enhance weekend patrols with a special “roving” unit that will go to hotspots, including so-called car meet-ups and other mass gatherings.

First Deputy Commissioner John Stanford said the department will add what they’re calling a “significant number” of uniformed officers in marked vehicles to fight crime on the weekends. He wouldn’t give specifics of how many additional cops would be assigned to the weekend duty.

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“They will traverse throughout the city obviously with the idea in mind of crime fighting, but also being available for any of the planned or unplanned types of incidents that we’ve seen across the city, such as those large gatherings of individuals, car meet activities, or any type of major incident,” he said. “These officers and supervisors will be available to be deployed to those types of incidents.”

Stanford said the additional staffing from non-patrol units will be used Friday and Saturday nights to start and the change is designed to give patrol officers confidence that backup is available if things go wrong.

“To combat some of the issues they are seeing, some of the issues that they are facing because of our staffing challenges and allowing them to have another level of safety for the officers out there,” Stanford said.

He added that the special patrol will go after everything when it comes to crime.

“When I say crime fighting that encompasses all crime, obviously violent crime is a priority within the city of making the city safe, but crime is crime and so, it’s not like we’re just picking and choosing — if they see crime that’s being committed there, they are going to respond, they’re going to act and so as you know, some have considered retail theft a little level crime years ago. That’s one of the most important issues right now for us and so it’s still a crime.”

Stanford said police leaders will monitor the usefulness of the additional officers and adjust strength as necessary, redeploying officers every weekend to crime hotspots and keeping them mobile so they can help out where needed citywide.

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