Philadelphia police deploys 'Mobile Surge Team' to fight crime in city hotspots

Saturday, February 24, 2024
Philadelphia police deploys 'Mobile Surge Team' to fight crime
Philadelphia police deploys 'Mobile Surge Team' to fight crime in city hotspots

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia Police Department announced a new crime-fighting strategy that will see the deployment of what the department calls the "Mobile Surge Team."

The unit of uniform officers will deploy Friday and Saturday night in some of the city's neighborhoods that are grappling with high crime rates.

The department said the effort was part of Mayor Cherelle Parker's plan to make the city a safer place for residents, business owners and tourists who visit the city.

Philadelphia police discuss new crime-fighting strategy during a news conference on Feb. 23, 2024.

It's unclear how many officers will be a part of the "Mobile Surge Team" or where it will begin its work.

At a press conference Friday, officials said officers who are involved will come from non-patrol units and will offer additional crime-fighting support to officers in police districts across the city. Additionally, deployments will change from week to week based on city crime statistics.

"That focus is going to be hitting those hotspots that we know we have violent crime, those hotspots where we know we have continuous ongoing crime," said First Deputy Commissioner John Stanford. "The data drives us as to where we go."

Some people who live in Kensington were supportive of the new police strategy. Yahaira Cruz said current enforcement efforts have made a positive impact in the community, particularly on Kensington Avenue, where she works in an auto parts store.

She said she's noticed fewer drug users hanging out in front of her place of work, but a little extra protection would be a positive.

"Having the cops here more often on the weekend would really, really be an extra help for us," said Cruz.

Her co-worker, Charles Perkins, said more officers would certainly help make customers feel more comfortable to come and do business with them. Perkins says it's something that has not always been the case as addiction became more dire in the area.

Dionicio Jamenez and Mariangeli Alicea, the co-owners of Cantina La Martina, said new police efforts to secure crime-ridden neighborhoods could be the perfect opportunity to help restore Kensington for the families and businesses who operate there.

They said open fires, gunshots and drug use have scared customers away from their restaurant in the two years they've been open for business.

"You park your car, open the door and someone's there using drugs. I think that's more traumatic for everybody," said Jamenez.

The hope is more officers will minimize the crime, but Jamenez and Alicea said they would like to see a holistic approach, which they said was a promise that Mayor Parker made to business owners.

"Our only hope is that approach is taken when providing solutions to the community, given all of the social issues that lay within Kensington," said Alicea.

Officials said the "Mobile Surge Team" will also be used to respond to car meetups and gatherings of large unruly crowds, similar to one that formed on Temple University's campus earlier this month that saw at least one person suffer a gunshot wound.

The team will deploy every Friday and Saturday evening for the remainder of the year. The department said it would be open to changing its strategy and days it deploys the team, should it need to revise its plan.

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