The Fishtown Neighbors Association hosted a public safety meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 25, over Zoom.
The meeting, which was hosted by FNA public safety committee chairwoman Jen Gow, lasted a little over an hour and a half and was attended by over 100 members of the community.
Over the course of the meeting, representatives from, among others, the 26th Police District, the District Attorney’s office, the office of Councilman Mark Squilla as well as Town Watch Integrated Services gave updates on public safety measures and answered questions from community members.
Officer Cinnamon Smith provided crime updates and statistics on behalf of the 26th district. Smith reported that so far this year, there have been eight shooting victims and one homicide in the 26th district. In addition, there have been eight carjackings, and of those eight vehicles that were taken, so far five of them have been recovered.
To prevent carjackings, Smith told residents to, among other things, start their cars and drive off immediately, park in well-lit areas, roll up the windows and lock the doors, and trust their instincts.
“Pay attention to your surroundings,” Smith said. “That’s the main thing.”
In regard to the continued thefts of catalytic converters, Smith discussed various methods to help both prevent it and assist in recovering stolen converters. That includes either engraving the VIN number on the converter, purchasing identification labels, or applying bright automotive exhaust spray paint. Above all, Smith told residents to stay vigilant.
“If you hear anything or see something suspicious, please call 9-1-1,” Smith said.
To combat that and other crimes in the area, Capt. Maria Ortiz-Rodriguez said that the district is looking into any and all avenues to increase police presence in the area, including reaching out to other districts and adding a business beat in addition to the already-present bike-trained officers.
Ortiz-Rodriguez did, however, urge the neighborhood to be patient as the district continues to deal with staff shortages due to COVID, departures to surrounding townships and retirements.
“Everyone is doing everything they can in their power, people on this call, the politicians, our leaders, the mayor and stuff of that nature, to make sure that we do have the staffing that we require to keep everybody safe,” Ortiz-Rodriguez said.
Bill Summers from Town Watch, which helps communities organize to reduce crime, also encouraged residents to do what they can to observe, document and report criminal activity when it occurs.
“You got to be involved,” Summers said. “Don’t talk about it, be about it.”
For updates, follow @FishtownNeighborsAssociation on Facebook, @fishtownneighbors on Instagram or @fishtown on Twitter.