Drawing from several communities in Northwest Philadelphia, residents and police officials gathered on Thursday for the monthly PSA-1 meeting to discuss the prior week’s jump in both gun violence and burglaries in the 39th Police District.
PSA-1 is Police Service Area 1 – one of three distinct patrol districts in the 39th Police District. PSA-1 includes the entirety of East Falls and sections of Germantown.
Lt. Edward Bier – a 25-year PPD veteran and ranking officer in PSA-1 – presented the departmental crime statistics.
Noting that 2012 is off to a violent start citywide – 31 homicides reported as of Thursday – Lt. Bier said that in the week prior to the meeting, PSA-1 has experienced one homicide and four incidents at gunpoint – two robberies and two aggravated assaults.
He observed that several of these incidents have taken place in-and-around the Wayne Avenue corridor in Germantown.
Of the two robberies at gunpoint, one took place in East Falls at the intersection of Indian Queen Lane and Conrad Street.
As reported by Newsworks, an East Falls resident was robbed at approximately 8 p.m. on Jan. 20 by a 5’10” Hispanic male, with dark-complexion, between the ages of 16-18, wearing a black puffy jacket.
The victim, a white male, 29, reported the loss of his wallet and cell phone.
The perpetrator then fled eastbound on Indian Queen Lane – Bier suspects that he used the pedestrian bridge between Indian Queen and McDevitt Recreation Center to make his escape.
Lt. Bier confirmed that no arrests have been made in the case.
A significant drop in burglaries
Bier reported that as of Thursday’s meeting, nine residential burglaries have taken place in PSA-1 – 4 of which occurred in the week prior to the meeting.
He noted that burglaries in November and December amounted to 23 – a sizable decrease, Bier pointed out, from the 34 reported burglaries in October 2011.
“This was a great decrease,” Bier said in regard to the end-of year burglary statistics, adding, “I was glad to see that.”
Overall, he observed that crimes in PSA-1 were just slightly less in 2011 compared to 2010 – “nothing numerable,” he remarked.
Relating PPD strategy, Bier said that in 2012 the 39th District will focus on reducing gun violence and bolstering resident’s quality of life.
At present, he said, officers at the 39th are investigating gun permits registered in the district as a first step in mitigating gun violence.
William Johnson, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission (PPAC), was present at the meeting and introduced himself and his agency to those in attendance.
The PPAC, he explained, serves as the PPD’s citizen oversight committee, and is tasked with bringing the police and community together to foster cooperation and communication between the two groups.
Johnson said that his organization accepts complaints against the police and conducts investigations of these allegations, parallel to those of the PPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.
He noted that over 90 percent of the complaints against police are dismissed.
“Only 7 to 10 percent of the cases are sustained,” observed Johnson, which, “in many cases, exonerates the police department and police officers.”
Responding to a resident’s concerns about reporting crimes in neighborhoods, and the fear of inadvertently being marked as a “snitch,” Johnson offered his office’s services to ensure anonymity.
“You can call our office directly,” he said, “and we can act as a go-between for you and the police department.”
The next PSA-1 meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. at Philadelphia University’s Downs Auditorium.