Police to deploy fleet of officers in Kensington in effort to clean up neighborhood | What to know

Tuesday, June 11, 2024 1:33PM
Police to deploy fleet of officers in Kensington in effort to clean up neighborhood | What to know
After cleaning up the encampments in Kensington, Philadelphia police say phase two of the plan to enhance the neighborhood is kicking off.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After cleaning up the encampments in Kensington, Philadelphia police say phase two of the plan to enhance the neighborhood is kicking off.

The next phase is considered the "enforcement" phase, and police say they'll be targeting drug dealers, cracking down on prostitution, and focusing on quality-of-life crimes.

"We'll be deploying 75 men and women from Philadelphia Police Academy. They'll move into the Kensington pocket, and we will start to address those drug corners and drug activity that is causing much of the violence we see here," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel.

For many of these officers, this will be their first assignment out of the academy.

Th plan comes just a little over a month since the city cleared out encampments along Kensington Avenue.

When it happened, city officials applauded more than 50 people they say were successfully entered into a spectrum of treatment or housing options.

At a press conference on Monday, however, officials couldn't say how they are tracking those individuals.

READ | Residents remain wary but optimistic 1 week after cleanup of Kensington Avenue encampment

Residents remain wary but optimistic 1 week after cleanup of Kensington Avenue encampment

"I have deep concern about the numbers because I do this every day," noted Sarah Laurel.

Laurel runs Savage Sisters Recovery in Kensington, a nonprofit that provides trauma care to individuals suffering from addiction.

"Are they communicating? Departmentally, are they going to have real resources?" she questioned. "Do these police officers have specialized training in dealing with individuals who are unhoused? Are they going to be compassionate?"

Bethel says police are ready to rise to the occasion.

"Our footbeats are highly trained, we're adding additional training to work with those officers. They will have body cameras, phones, and they are working with senior officers," he said.

"There's no playbook, so we humble ourselves going into this operation being fluid and nimble, but we will flex as needed," Bethel added. "If I need to add additional personnel in there, we will."

Active enforcement of the 11 p.m. curfew for businesses in Kensington begins next week, authorities say.