Neighbors encouraged to stay vigilant in light of recent crime

In a 2012 photo from a meet­ing about Port Rich­mond safety, from left: PRO­PAC pres­id­ent Ken Paul; 24th Po­lice Dis­trict com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer Tina Wil­lis; Po­lice Ser­vice Area 3 com­mand­er Lt. Ron Paul and PRTW treas­urer Pat Healey. STAR PHOTO

Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­part­ment Dis­trict 24 Cap­tain Charles Vo­gt said he’s not see­ing an up­tick of crime in Port Rich­mond, des­pite what some neigh­bors might feel. With a lim­ited num­ber of po­lice re­sources avail­able, he said, res­id­ents have to help be the eyes and ears of the neigh­bor­hood.

Sean Sul­li­van, 24,  a Con­necti­c­ut nat­ive who moved to Phil­adelphia two years ago, was walk­ing to Al­legheny Av­en­ue at about 12:30 p.m. on Wed­nes­day, May 1, when he was at­tacked by a group of teen­agers.

“Prob­ably a block be­fore Al­legheny, I passed a group of 15 to 20 kids, and didn’t think about it,” Sul­li­van said. “Then, as I’m go­ing down Ed­ge­mont, one of them got me in the back of the head. As soon as I turned to see what was hap­pen­ing, I got a bar­rage of hits every­where.”

The 6’3”, 190-pound Sul­li­van was over­whelmed by a group of 10 to 12 teen­agers act­ively punch­ing and kick­ing him from all sides, he said.

Luck­ily, a wo­man who resides on Ed­ge­mont Street heard the fracas and opened her door, ur­ging Sul­li­van to come in­side. The po­lice ar­rived 10 minutes later.

Sul­li­van said po­lice are work­ing with him to identi­fy the at­tack­ers. Sul­li­van said that the wo­man who as­sisted him told po­lice she re­cog­nized the at­tack­ers as stu­dents from Douglas High School, and said that she and a cross­ing guard would be able to identi­fy them.

It was an in­cid­ent that sparked a con­ver­sa­tion on the Port Rich­mond Town Watch’s Face­book page, where neigh­bors dis­cussed what they per­ceived to be an in­crease in crim­in­al activ­ity in Port Rich­mond, as evid­ence by Sul­li­van’s at­tack and oth­er re­cent crimes.

Jac­quelyn LaValle Pierce, who just moved to Al­mond and Ontario streets, said she nev­er used to be afraid to walk alone in Port Rich­mond, but now, she’s un­easy.

“I think it [crime] has got­ten worse,” she said. “We need more cops to patrol, that is our biggest prob­lem.”

Ken Paul, pres­id­ent of Port Rich­mond on Patrol and Civic (PRO­PAC), is aware of the at­tack on Sul­li­van, and said he thinks vi­ol­ence in Port Rich­mond is on the rise right now, but po­lice of­ficers from the 24th dis­trict don’t have the man­power to chase down every kid get­ting in­to trouble.

“There’s only so many cops. The 24th dis­trict is huge. Every­body seems to think they should all be patrolling on the Port Rich­mond side, but the oth­er side, Kens­ing­ton, that’s the O.K. Cor­ral,” Paul said. “People are like, ‘They need to hire more [cops],’ but where’s the money for that go­ing to come from?”

The key to con­trolling this type of vi­ol­ence, Paul said, is par­ent­al in­volve­ment and com­munity aware­ness.

“Par­ents need to know what their kids are do­ing. Every­body says, ‘Oh, it’s not my kid, my kid’s an an­gel.’ Half these par­ents don’t know where their kids go,” Paul said. “If you don’t con­trol them, that’s when you lose con­trol of your neigh­bor­hood.”

Capt. Charles Vo­gt of the Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­part­ment’s 24th dis­trict said the East De­tect­ives di­vi­sion is in­vest­ig­at­ing the at­tack on Sul­li­van, but de­clined to com­ment on wheth­er the at­tack­ers went to any spe­cif­ic school.

Vo­gt said loc­als should not be fear­ful of in­creased day­light vi­ol­ence in Port Rich­mond.

“When it comes to vi­ol­ent crime, I’m not see­ing any up­tick,” he said.“They [loc­als] shouldn’t be any more con­cerned than they were be­fore it happened,” Vo­gt said. “It’s the first such in­cid­ent I’ve had in that area, and it’s not like we have a pat­tern in that area.”

Vo­gt said that 24th dis­trict of­ficers on patrol and school po­lice of­ficers are aware of the at­tack and will be mon­it­or­ing the area where it took place.

Port Rich­mond Town Watch lead­ers do re­port to the 24th Dis­trict the in­cid­ents they see in the neigh­bor­hood, and 24th Dis­trict of­ficers are present at meet­ings of Port Rich­mond on Patrol and Civic and the Port Rich­mond Com­munity Group to re­port crime stat­ist­ics to at­tendees and ad­dress con­cerns.

Vo­gt con­tin­ued, “We don’t see the vi­ol­ence in Port Rich­mond like we see in the rest of the 24th dis­trict, par­tic­u­larly Kens­ing­ton and Har­rowg­ate. In Port Rich­mond and Ju­ni­ata Park, it’s prop­erty crimes, like auto thefts and burg­lar­ies, that are of­ten a prob­lem.”

He said the dis­trict has lim­ited re­sources and has to fo­cus those re­sources where they’re most needed.

Vo­gt said that he ad­ded a fourth patrol car to serve Port Rich­mond after be­com­ing cap­tain of the 24th dis­trict 15 months ago.

He also poin­ted out that there are two po­lice of­ficers in patrol cars that ex­clus­ively work on Ara­mingo Av­en­ue, a plain­clothes burg­lar­ies team that patrols Port Rich­mond, and two 24th dis­trict of­ficers as­signed to work school dis­tricts.

“I’m guess­ing people go up to Kens­ing­ton Av­en­ue, they see bike cops go­ing up and down and of­ficer on foot beats, and no, you don’t see that in Port Rich­mond, but we do have the cov­er­age. They’re out there,” Capt. Vo­gt said.

On the Town Watch page, group mem­bers urged res­id­ents to be “the eyes and ears” of their neigh­bor­hood, since the cops can’t do it all alone.

Capt. Vo­gt urged res­id­ents of Port Rich­mond to con­tact the 24th dis­trict at 215-686-3240 to re­port il­leg­al activ­ity or to call the 24th dis­trict’s tip line at 215-685-3281.

Star Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or sne­w­

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