The toughest job in the neighborhood

Sam Ne­w­house from Star joined an of­ficer of the 24th Po­lice Dis­trict for a stand­ard patrol on the night of Tues­day, Oct. 29. Here is what happened dur­ing that patrol.   

  • Officer Paul Sulock, one of the officer present for the ride-along, shows off the .40-caliber subcompact Springfield handgun, clip and cash that he seized from a man arrested last week after an intense chase. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

  • Officer Victoria Parrilla of the Philadelphia Police Department’s 24th District takes a report from Diana Vasquez, from whom $400 in cash was allegedly stolen while she did her laundry at Allegheny Avenue and Emerald Street. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

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.

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