Philadelphia police's 75 newest officers will patrol Kensington

The new officers will work with senior officers and those already established on the beat.

Annie McCormick Image
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Philadelphia police's newest officers will patrol Kensington
Philadelphia police's newest officers will patrol Kensington

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Seventy-five new police recruits are now sworn Philadelphia police officers.

The group graduates as the Philadelphia Police Department continues a major push in recruitment.

Currently, the department is a little over 1,000 officers short of approved staffing levels.

In Philadelphia, the number of police graduates dropped to just 114 in 2022.

Commissioner Kevin Bethel touched on that while addressing graduates on Monday.

"Defund the police, negative portrayals of police across America, and how about this ladies and gentlemen, they still decided to join our team," Bethel said to applause.

Governor Josh Shapiro signed a law at the end of last year, lowering the requirements for the physical fitness evaluation, which officials say more recruits are now passing.

In 2024, the department will have nine academy classes, with classes starting every six weeks.

The department forecasts 350 hires in 2024.

Monday's graduates are the class of 402, and their first assignment is in Kensington.

"There's no playbook to dismantle an open drug market. We are creating that playbook," said Bethel.

Mayor Cherelle Parker made a campaign promise to clear the open-air drug market in Kensington.

Last week, Bethel described the deployment of the 75 newly sworn officers to the area as phase 2, the enforcement phase. The new officers will work with senior officers, and those already established on the beat.

Parker said this to the graduates Monday: "Just your presence there, getting to know the very people that you are sworn to protect and serve you help me make good on that promise of safe, clean, green, economic opportunity for all."

Patrol Officer Julio Rodriguez-Perez said he is ready for whatever comes their way on their Kensington assignment.

"They're human beings like everyone else. So just treat everyone with dignity and respect. That's what we're going to do out there and enforce the law," he said.

Patrol Officer Carol Burgess is also optimistic.

"We have a very strong class, we built such camaraderie together. It's even better we're going together because we know the people we're going out with already," she said.

Patrol Officer Nazeer Bostick said they welcome being part of the changes in Kensington.

"I think they'd love to see more cops down there ... just being out there and being visible," said Bostick.

There are six application drives a year for Philadelphia police recruitment. The processing time to hire is now about two months.

The next open application drive is from June 24 to July 21.