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After neighbors advocated for 24-hour police presence at an especially violent intersection in North Philly’s Poplar neighborhood, officials appear to have heeded the call.
The Philadelphia Police Department and Philadelphia Housing Authority officers have started coordinating to more thoroughly cover the area around 10th and Brown, police and PHA confirmed to Billy Penn.
The beefed up presence came after years of pleas from community activists, and after Billy Penn published several reports on the high rate of sustained neighborhood violence, largely fueled by a years-long conflict between three adjacent housing developments.
Officers are especially trying to patrol the area between the hours of 6 p.m. and 2 a.m., said PPD spokesperson Officer Tanya Little.
It’s a welcome change for Richard Allen tenant council president Wysenia Williams, who said she’s been asking for it since at least 2018.
“It’s always been a known drug corner,” Williams said. “Once Safe Streets stopped when John Street was the mayor, that’s when the chaos started,” she added, referring to a Philly policing tactic employed in the early 2000s. “So, that’s been a long time.”
There’s been one nearby shooting so far this year, according to city data. In addition to more thorough police coverage of the problem corner, increased community engagement has also helped decrease crime, per Williams, a longtime Richard Allen resident. Her neighbor Jermaine Tabb concurred.
Specifically, they said, neighbors are calling on law enforcement for help more often.
Tabb organized a peace walk last fall through the three feuding neighborhoods: Harrison Plaza to the north, Richard Allen Homes in the middle and Penn Town to the south.
“I have noticed that the police officers have been in the neighborhood,” the Richard Allen native said. “The residents in the community is really tired of the young brothers being in front of someone’s home.”
In the five years leading up to last summer, nearly 80 people were shot in the area bound by Broad Street, Girard Avenue, Spring Garden Street and 6th Street. But half of the victims were injured during the first six months 2020 along, according to a Billy Penn analysis. The spike there followed the citywide trend. Last year, just under 500 family members, loved ones, and friends were murdered in Philadelphia.
Williams and Tabb both said they’ve noticed a decrease in violence in recent months with the increased police presence.
Another resident who lives closer to Penn Town and asked to remain anonymous disagreed. That neighbor said they haven’t seen more cops in their community, and believes any slow-down in violence can be attributed to the cold weather.
Despite the snow and freeze, police have already recorded more than 60 homicides across the city, representing a pace that’s 45% ahead of last year to date.
Richard Allen tenant council president and community organizer Williams is focused on other things this month. She’s helping to organize a neighborhood-wide clean-up and beautification for Black History Month.
“I’m trying to get the drug dealers, the moms, the kids,” Williams said, “so we all doing something together.”