Police, businesses, urban planners and residents can build safer communities together

 The intersection of Germantown and Erie avenues is shown in this Google Street View image.

The intersection of Germantown and Erie avenues is shown in this Google Street View image.

Speak Easy presents a public discussion about strengthening the relationship between the police and the communities they serve. Seeking diverse perspectives, NewsWorks is hosting a public forum, “Police and Community Cooperation,” on Nov. 17 at WHYY studios. Registration is free at whyy.org/speakeasy.

My mother was a very compassionate and faithful volunteer in the community and our church. I want to live and leave that same sweet fragrance of integrity, kindness and compassion. I strive daily to walk in her loving footsteps and spirit.

I serve as a corridor manager for Called To Serve Community Development Corporation (CDC) in my community in North Philadelphia. I am on the board of trustees and the personnel committee at my church. Professionally and personally, my family and friends all know that my mantra has always been this: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.”

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Through the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Local Initiatives Support Coalition and Called To Serve CDC, I had the unique privilege a couple of months ago to be selected for the SafeGrowth for the 21st Century CPTED Training. CPTED stands for “crime prevention through environmental design,” the theory that law enforcement, city planners, architects, designers and residents can work together to create a safe community. The training was intense and very educational. For this pilot program, eight commercial corridor CDCs in Philadephia participated. Each team consisted of police officers, community business owners and stakeholders, neighborhood block captains and corridor managers.

My team and I have had the honor of meeting and establishing a dynamite relationship with two outstanding police officers from the 25th Police District. Officers Marcus Salas and Gary Sinclair have made a great impact on our commercial corridor and the surrounding community.

They believe wholeheartedly that “it takes teamwork to make the dream work.” They have rolled up their sleeves and worked with us. Not only did they attend the weekly meetings I scheduled, they also sacrificed the time to go out in the field with me weekly to engage with the merchants and neighbors of the community for open and honest dialogue. On each occasion, they listened to the community’s concerns and complaints, took notes, and advised them of what they plan on doing to help — and they have acted upon their promises.

Although we have all received our SafeGrowth CPTED certification, they continue to attend meetings and are dedicated to fulfilling our goal of taking two blighted areas in our community that are eyesores and transforming them into vibrant and welcoming places.

Called To Serve CDC has adopted Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School. At Bethune’s “Back To School Night,” the officers spoke with parents and assured them that they are in our community to protect our children as well.

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