Philadelphia Police Department 24th district officer Victoria Parrilla, a five-year veteran of the force, was having a relatively slow night patrolling Kensington and Port Richmond when, just after 8:30 p.m., a call crackled in on her radio unit.
A male in a car had been spotted with a gun, near Frankford Avenue and Somerset Street. He was fleeing in his vehicle.
In half-a-second, Parrilla spun her car 180 degrees away from Front Street and, with sirens blaring, was racing to the scene of the incident. Voices from around the district began coming through on the radio unit as they converged on the suspect’s location, while the officers in pursuit shouted out every street he was turning on: “Cambria Street!” “Coral Street!” “Emerald Street!”
Parrilla’s car filled with the smell of burning rubber as she took each corner hard, while amazed neighbors watched from their front steps. As Parrilla hit East Birch Street, the suspect, now on foot, darted out across the street, with two officers close behind him. She sped to Frankford Avenue and pulled over, running from the car and vaulting over a five-foot-tall chain-link fence into the lot where officers had subdued the man and assisting in cuffing him.
Arresting officer Paul Sulock, also of the 24th District, later explained that he had pulled the suspect over for a routine traffic stop.
But as he walked up, he saw the man trying to hide a handgun in his waistband. Their eyes met. The man hit the pedal and his tires squealed as he tore off, while Sulock ran back to his vehicle, radioing for help.
The man arrested after the chase, Aaron Lizzimore, 40, of 1200 Wallace St. in North Philadelphia, is now facing charges of narcotics violations, gun violations, resisting arrest and fleeing police officers, according to Public Affairs Department Officer Jillian Russell. Lizzimore reportedly had a 40-caliber subcompact Springfield handgun, $770 in cash, and 4.5 grams of crack cocaine, estimated to have a street value of $270, at the time of his arrest.
ldquo;I love coming to work each day,” Parrilla says of her job as she returns to patrolling the neighborhood after the chase.
That’s an interesting attitude to have, being in one of the largest and most dangerous districts in the city.
The 24th District’s officers are spread out over the communities of Port Richmond, Juniata, Harrowgate and Kensington. On this night, Parrilla was assigned to Police Service Area 2, which straddles the neighborhoods and runs from Tulip to Front streets and Lehigh to Allegheny avenues.
Over the course of the night, she pulled over suspicious vehicles, backed up fellow officers responding to calls, and kept an eye out for suspicious behavior, circling her patrol area “to let people know we’re here,” as she put it.
Parrilla also took two reports of thefts at various points in the evening, one a theft of prescription drugs, the other of cash, both of which compelled her to leave her beat and return to the district office to file paperwork.
At one point, Parrilla spotted two people in the shadows of a former school at Frankford Avenue and Somerset Street that now houses the Community Women’s Education Project. She circled around to see what was going on, and encountered two women in their forties, so intoxicated they could barely speak. The women admitted that they had been smoking “sherm,” slang for marijuana laced with PCP.
But just being high isn’t a crime. Parrilla instead urged the women to go home, and gave one a ride to her house while the other one walked away.
Parrilla, a native of Kensington, said that friends in law enforcement who work in other districts tell her they are blown away by what she faces every day.
“It’s like you go into another world,” they tell her.