Northeast Times

8th district commander beefing up street patrols

— He tells Mill­brook and Park­wood res­id­ents of strategy to go after un­ruly ju­ven­iles, pre­vent prop­erty crimes.

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“It’s not my job to baby-sit your kids,” the 8th Po­lice Dis­trict’s new com­mand­er told mem­bers of the Mill­brook and Park­wood civic as­so­ci­ations last week.

That com­ment drew ap­plause for Capt. Len Ditch­kof­sky on con­sec­ut­ive nights as he spoke at the or­gan­iz­a­tions’ monthly meet­ings.

He got more when he said he has of­ficers work­ing over­time on week­ends to curb un­der­age drink­ing and un­ruly kids.

He drove home identic­al points at both gath­er­ings, telling civic groups’ mem­bers his op­tions are lim­ited when deal­ing with ju­ven­iles.

“I can chase them or ar­rest them,” he said at Mill­brook on April 17 and again at Park­wood on April 18. Po­lice made 24 ar­rests on a re­cent week­end, he said, and al­most all of those taken in­to cus­tody lived in the dis­trict, which in­cludes neigh­bor­hoods east of Roosevelt Boulevard and north of Rhawn Street.

“They’re your kids,” he said, adding he has got­ten a few phone calls from po­lice of­ficers and fire­fight­ers whose off­spring were among those who have got­ten in­to trouble re­cently.

The cap­tain’s com­ments were well-re­ceived at both meet­ings. The dis­trict’s res­id­ents have long com­plained about ju­ven­iles drink­ing or fight­ing or selling drugs.

Two Mill­brook mem­bers, Ken Grow and Mike Lamb, re­or­gan­ized a dormant Town Watch group in re­sponse to what has be­come a routine week­end prob­lems in their neigh­bor­hood.

Ditch­kof­sky said he un­der­stands that youths get­ting ar­res­ted for un­der­age drink­ing face a lot of con­sequences bey­ond the leg­al troubles. Their driver’s li­censes, even what col­leges will ac­cept them, are af­fected, he said. Youths with al­co­hol will be first charged with dis­orderly con­duct. But if they don’t stop, they’ll face un­der­age drink­ing charges.

The cap­tain said kids are be­ing found with ex­pens­ive hard li­quor, not just beer.

“The kids are spend­ing money on some top-shelf stuff,” he told Park­wood mem­bers. All of it gets con­fis­cated, he ad­ded.

He said po­lice also have found decks that kids have been built in wooded areas. They’re well-made with ex­pens­ive ma­ter­i­als, he said. One re­cently caught fire, and he said the oth­er is sure to be set ablaze. There’s a trend among teens to start camp­fires to light up their drink­ing.

Ditch­kof­sky said the dis­trict’s man­power has been low. To counter that, he has put more of­ficers on patrol to in­crease po­lice vis­ib­il­ity, which he said is a factor in re­du­cing prop­erty crimes. He told mem­bers of both or­gan­iz­a­tions they should no­tice more of­ficers on patrol.

Burg­lar­ies and van­dal­ism are big con­cerns to North­east res­id­ents. He knows that on a per­son­al level, he said, be­cause he lives in the North­east.

“I prob­ably am con­cerned about the same things you are,” he told Mill­brook mem­bers. “I am con­cerned about safety and prop­erty val­ues.”

He said he has seen prop­erty val­ues de­crease in the North­east, and he knows burg­lar­ies chase people out of the city.

“If you are the vic­tim of a burg­lary, and can af­ford it, you’ll be gone with­in a year,” he said.

His good news was that ma­jor crimes have de­creased 9 per­cent in the dis­trict. Fur­ther, he said he has been prom­ised 10 of­ficers after the next Po­lice Academy class gradu­ates in June. The cap­tain said he took two of­ficers from patrolling Frank­lin Mills mall and hopes to re­store those patrols when he gets those of­ficers.

Right across Wood­haven Road from Frank­lin Mills, van­dals re­cently did more than $4,000 in dam­ages to a wall at the Knights Road Shop­ping cen­ter, Jose Arce, seni­or prop­erty man­ager for Marx Re­alty, the New York com­pany that op­er­ates the cen­ter, told Mill­brook mem­bers at their meet­ing last week.

Marx had spent $2 mil­lion to fix up the prop­erty over the past few years, Arce said, adding that ten­ants who had left are re­turn­ing.

“You have no idea how you up­graded our neigh­bor­hood,” Mill­brook’s re­cord­ing sec­ret­ary, Mike Brem­ser, told Arce.

“We need every­body’s help to keep it nice,” Arce told the as­so­ci­ation’s mem­bers.

Rudy Muller, the 8th dis­trict’s com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer, said that a cam­era sys­tem is now in place in the shop­ping cen­ter.

Ditch­kof­sky, who had in­tro­duced Arce to Mill­brook mem­bers, said the shop­ping cen­ter has offered to spon­sor part of the dis­trict’s Na­tion­al Night Out on Aug. 7.

Arce said Marx Re­alty has made dona­tions to the YMCA on Knights Road and to the neigh­bor­hood Town Watch. ••

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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