Seniors get a little extra security

Us­ing a state grant, Rep. Curtis Thomas is in­stalling se­cur­ity cam­er­as at a num­ber of seni­or homes in his dis­trict.

The res­id­ents of Kens­ing­ton’s Casa Car­men Aponte Seni­or De­vel­op­ment pro­ject, just across the street from Nor­ris Square at Han­cock Street and Susque­hanna Av­en­ue, are no strangers to crime.

In the past, the de­vel­op­ment, with about 50 res­id­ents, has seen break-ins, burg­lar­ies and rob­ber­ies.

Staff mem­bers have seen drug ad­dicts us­ing stair­wells in the com­plex to shoot up. Of­ten, they need to ush­er vag­rants, that they find sleep­ing in the re­tire­ment home’s small court­yard, off of the prop­erty.

Earli­er this month, just around the corner from Casa Car­men Aponte, a murder oc­curred in the early morn­ing hours of Sat­urday, Ju­ly 2. Samuel Betan­court, 29, of 6000 Cobbs Creek Park­way, was found ly­ing on the street at 200 W. Susque­hanna Ave.

He was shot in the shoulder and but­tocks.

Un­til last week, rep­res­ent­at­ives for the re­tire­ment home said, the com­plex had only a few se­cur­ity cam­er­as which were either dam­aged or rarely mon­itored.

 However, that changed with the re­cent in­stall­a­tion of an eight-cam­era se­cur­ity sys­tem equipped with mo­tion de­tect­ors.

And now, po­lice are hop­ing the sys­tem, which can be viewed re­motely over the In­ter­net, will help re­duce crimes in the area and provide cru­cial in­form­a­tion when crimes do oc­cur.

This is only the be­gin­ning of a lar­ger ef­fort that will see sim­il­ar sys­tems in­stalled in seni­or liv­ing com­munit­ies throughout state Rep. W. Curtis Thomas’ (D-181st dist.) dis­trict.

“I want to un­der­stand the needs of seni­ors in my dis­trict,” Thomas said dur­ing a Ju­ly 12 un­veil­ing of the “181st Safe Com­munit­ies Ini­ti­at­ive: Seni­or Elec­tron­ic Sur­veil­lance Pro­gram” at Casa Car­men Aponte.

“We aren’t go­ing to stop un­til de­vel­op­ments like Casa Car­men Aponte have the best [se­cur­ity] in the City of Phil­adelphia and the en­tire Com­mon­wealth,” he said.

Util­iz­ing a grant for about $100,000 from the state’s De­part­ment of Com­munity and Eco­nom­ic De­vel­op­ment, Thomas fun­ded the in­stall­a­tion of a sys­tem at Casa Car­men Aponte, Guild House West, a re­tire­ment home at 12th Street and Fair­mount Av­en­ue; Guild House East, at 8th and Spring Garden streets; and York­town Arms at 1300 W. Jef­fer­son St.

He hopes to con­tin­ue to bring sim­il­ar se­cur­ity sys­tems to the re­main­ing 10 re­tire­ment com­munit­ies in the 181st Dis­trict.

Dr. Jamil As­saf-Bantista, own­er of Lo­gist­ics Man­age­ment Con­sult­ants, Inc., the 22-year-old com­pany con­trac­ted to in­stall the cam­er­as, called the sys­tem a “pro­to­type” or a pi­lot pro­gram.

As­saf-Bantista said the sys­tems not only send out im­me­di­ate alerts for mo­tion de­tec­tion, they also al­low po­lice, fire de­part­ments and oth­er emer­gency re­spon­ders to patch in­to the sys­tem and see what they could en­counter while en route to the loc­a­tion.

“First re­spon­ders can see what’s hap­pen­ing be­fore they get there,” he re­it­er­ated.

Due to the fact that some of the cam­er­as in Casa Car­men Aponte’s sys­tem face Nor­ris Square, Capt. Mike Cram of the Phil­adelphia Po­lice’s 26th Dis­trict said the new sys­tem could be a tool for loc­al law en­force­ment.

“This in­form­a­tion is go­ing to be a power­ful weapon go­ing for­ward,” he said.

Of­ficer John Ramos, also of the 26th Dis­trict and as­signed to patrol Nor­ris Square, said the high res­ol­u­tion cam­er­as on the ex­ter­i­or of Casa Car­men Aponte could al­low po­lice to identi­fy sus­pects who simply pass by the area or are seen in the nearby park.

Also, he said, with a meth­adone clin­ic loc­ated just feet from the re­tire­ment home, the se­cur­ity sys­tem is ex­pec­ted to help cut down on the prob­lems res­id­ents have with break-ins be­cause it will al­low po­lice to find out if pat­rons of the nearby clin­ic — Jef Ken Meth­adone Main­ten­ance is at 136 W. Dia­mond St. — are caus­ing prob­lems at the re­tire­ment home.

“The high res­ol­u­tion cam­er­as point at that park. It will help in­vest­ig­a­tions,” said Ramos.

Along with the se­cur­ity as­pect of the pro­gram, As­saf said in the fu­ture he hopes to util­ize the sys­tem as a point-to-point med­ic­al ser­vice, where res­id­ents of the re­tire­ment com­munit­ies could speak over cam­er­as to doc­tors for simple check ins and minor con­cerns that could help cut down on costly trips to the doc­tor’s of­fice.

“We are do­ing this from the bot­tom up,” he said. “But, we could really save time and money with a pro­gram like this.”

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­ 

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