The Philadelphia Police Department’s 24th district, which includes Kensington, Port Richmond, Harrowgate and Juniata, currently leads the city with 46 homicides so far this year. It had 27 all of last year. If you guessed that those homicides were evenly spread out the district, you’d be wrong.
“If I have 10 officers working a shift, eight of them have to go to Kensington Avenue,” said the district’s commander, Capt. Pedro Rosario. “So I have other neighborhoods such as Juniata and Port Richmond that won’t get the same amount of coverage. That’s just soup to nuts. That’s how it works.”
The rise in homicides along Kensington Avenue – coupled with the fact that it’s the opioid center of the universe – is forcing the 24th district to use up a disproportionate amount of resources in that area. Because Kensington has been the police district’s problem child neighborhood for so long, the diversion of resources it caused has resulted in fewer resources for the other neighborhoods in the district.
“Around here they’re just sticking people up left and right,” said Ken Paul, president of Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic, a Port Richmond-based community organization. “It never stops.”
Paul said his daughter recently missed a carjacking at a gas station by 15 minutes.
“Some old woman went to get gas and they took her car from her,” he said. “Every time you turn around, it’s something else.”
Residents have complained about drag racing, loud dirt bikes, short dumping and drugs being sold in the neighborhood as well, Paul said.
These are the sort of issues residents in 24th District neighborhoods not named Kensington are dealing with. But thanks to a new substation, aka a mini station, slated to open at the corner of Kensington Avenue and F Street early next year, the 24th district should be freed up to expend more resources on those communities while the Kensington substation takes care of issues in Kensington. The sub-station will be commanded by a lieutenant, and the majority of officers will be foot patrols.
“The mini station’s objective is to address quality of life and community engagement while still enforcing the law,” said Mike Dunn, a city spokesperson.
According to Rosario, the mini station’s patrol boundaries will go from D Street to Jasper Street and Somerset Street to Allegheny Avenue. He said that the sub-station’s foot patrols will work seven days a week for 16 hours a day. Every shift but the midnight shift will be covered. During that time, 24th district officers will patrol the area.
You might expect that time to be when most of the gun crime happens – late at night. But, Rosario said it actually isn’t concentrated during one time of the day.
“I wish I could tell you it’s one shift where it’s all happening,” he said. “It’s not. You could take any time of the day and something could happen.”
Dunn said the facility will work similarly to the 3rd district’s substation, which is located on South Street. That station is also run by a lieutenant.
You can think of the substation as sort of a miniature district within a district. The lieutenant in charge will report back to Rosario.
Rosario told the Star that the opening of the station all comes down to “getting the location up to spec.”
“The location we’ve chosen – it’s going to have to be renovated and just meet our specifications,” he said. “So that’s what we’re in the process of doing right now.”
Until then, Paul hopes things don’t get too out of hand where he lives.
“If you don’t take care of the little things,” he said, “then it spirals.”