8th district PDAC looks to change things up


With a new com­mand­ing of­ficer and a new ex­ec­ut­ive board in place, the 8th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil is ad­opt­ing a new way of do­ing busi­ness.

It looks a lot like the old way.

Dur­ing the group’s monthly meet­ing on March 7, lead­ers said they will re-com­mit them­selves to the ori­gin­al mis­sion and bylaws of PDAC, as a city­wide or­gan­iz­a­tion.

There are PDACs in each of the city’s 21 patrol dis­tricts, but all fall un­der the um­brella and bylaws of a city­wide ad­vis­ory group. Some dis­trict-level PDACs in­ter­pret the bylaws more lib­er­ally than oth­ers. In re­cent months, city­wide PDAC board mem­bers have been re­view­ing the bylaws for pos­sible up­dat­ing.

“We really got off track of what the PDAC was foun­ded for,” said 8th PDAC chair­man Harry Son­ntag. “[By re­or­gan­iz­ing,] we’re ac­tu­ally ahead of the game from where the rest of the city is.”

Ac­cord­ing to com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer Rudy Muller, who is the primary li­ais­on between the ci­vil­ian board and the po­lice dis­trict, the push to re­or­gan­ize began when a new PDAC ex­ec­ut­ive board took of­fice in Janu­ary.

Then last month, the dis­trict got a new com­mand­ing of­ficer, Capt. Le­onard Ditch­kof­sky, who re­placed long­time com­mand­er De­borah Kelly. Kelly has re­tired from the po­lice de­part­ment.

A the start of 2012, the PDAC had al­most 70 mem­bers lis­ted on its rolls, al­though dozens hadn’t ac­tu­ally com­pleted the mem­ber­ship re­quire­ments dic­tated by the bylaws, Muller said. Pro­spect­ive mem­bers must fill out an ap­plic­a­tion form, be ap­proved by the PDAC and pass a back­ground check ad­min­istered by the po­lice de­part­ment.

“What I found was some that were on the mem­ber­ship rolls who were nev­er of­fi­cially mem­bers,” Muller said. “Some wanted to be in­volved only in [cer­tain] dis­trict events. Some moved away from the dis­trict. Some were de­ceased. And some were in­eligible due to polit­ic­al of­fice.”

In re­cent years, the 8th PDAC and its of­ficers had co-hos­ted many com­munity parties and car­ni­val-style events at the dis­trict, in­clud­ing an­nu­al fall and spring fest­ivals de­signed for chil­dren. The new PDAC will have oth­er pri­or­it­ies.

“This ad­vis­ory coun­cil is sup­posed to give me ad­vice. We’re sup­posed to come up with solu­tions to prob­lems,” Ditch­kof­sky said. “We’re go­ing to be out of the event busi­ness. I don’t see that as pro­duct­ive to po­lice work. It’s not that those [events] aren’t good things. If some­body wants to have something like that, I’ll show up and sup­port it. But I need the cops we have here to be con­cen­trat­ing on crime.”

Like­wise, the PDAC will be smal­ler and more fo­cused.

The new mem­ber­ship list has about 38 names, Muller said. Ideally, the group should in­clude one rep­res­ent­at­ive from each of the 14 civic as­so­ci­ations and Town Watch groups in the dis­trict, as well as busi­ness lead­ers, clergy and oth­ers who rep­res­ent com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions.

Meet­ings are not meant to be open to the pub­lic be­cause of the po­ten­tially sens­it­ive crime in­form­a­tion that may be dis­cussed.

“That’s the dir­ec­tion I would like to see this go,” Ditch­kof­sky said.

Res­id­ents of the dis­trict should un­der­stand that PDAC is not an open for­um. Rather, the monthly Town Hall meet­ings hos­ted by the cap­tain serve that pur­pose, as do the three monthly Po­lice Ser­vice Area meet­ings in the dis­trict, where res­id­ents can meet the lieu­ten­ants in charge of their spe­cif­ic neigh­bor­hoods.

The next Town Hall meet­ing will be on Wed­nes­day, March 28, at 6 p.m., at the 8th dis­trict sta­tion, Academy and Red Li­on roads.

PSA-1, es­sen­tially the south­ern third of the dis­trict, will meet on the same night at 7 p.m. at Im­macu­late Mary Home, 2990 Holme Ave. PSA-2, the cent­ral third of the dis­trict, will meet on Wed­nes­day, March 21, at 7 p.m., at Christ the King School lib­rary, 3252 Chester­field Road. PSA-3, the north­ern third of the dis­trict, will meet on Fri­day, March 23, at 7 p.m., at Nor­com Com­munity Cen­ter, 10980 Nor­com Road.

Res­id­ents may vis­it the Web page www.philly­po­lice.com for an in­ter­act­ive map of the dis­trict and the PSAs. By click­ing on the “8th dis­trict homepage” link, vis­it­ors can read a full sched­ule of Town Hall and PSA meet­ings, along with oth­er in­form­a­tion about the dis­trict.

Son­ntag and the board have also changed the seat­ing ar­range­ment at PDAC meet­ings. They now sit in a circle, much like com­mand­ers do at the po­lice de­part­ment’s weekly CompStat meet­ings.

“It’s a roundtable dis­cus­sion to talk about is­sues in the dis­trict as com­munity lead­ers and busi­ness own­ers, to come up with some ideas and work with the of­ficers to fix prob­lems,” Son­ntag said. “The people who serve on the coun­cil will all bring something to the table.” ••


You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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