Fishtown businesses call for increased police patrols

Busi­ness own­ers gathered for a Fishtown Area Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation meet­ing to dis­cuss con­cerns about crime in the neigh­bor­hood. 

It was stand­ing room only at Cook and Shaker on Al­bert Street last Wed­nes­day even­ing when loc­al busi­ness own­ers gathered for a Fishtown Area Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation meet­ing to dis­cuss their grow­ing con­cerns about crime in the neigh­bor­hood. 

Vari­ous com­munity groups, in­clud­ing the New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, FABA, and the River Wards Crime Watch held the meet­ing after loc­al busi­ness own­ers ex­pressed in­terest in dis­cuss­ing their safety con­cerns, NK­CDC Eco­nom­ic De­vel­op­ment Dir­ect­or Joanna Winchester said. 

Rep­res­ent­at­ives from the 26th Po­lice Dis­trict at­ten­ded the meet­ing to field ques­tions and of­fer their own ad­vice and sug­ges­tions. 

“Be sure you’re tak­ing the ne­ces­sary pre­cau­tions,” Of­ficer Todd Oan­dasan said. 

Good light­ing and trans­par­ent win­dows, he said, will make pro­tect­ing your busi­ness much easi­er. 

For those who are con­cerned about the well be­ing of their busi­nesses and em­ploy­ees, the Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­part­ment is of­fer­ing a new tool for crime pre­ven­tion and in­vest­ig­a­tion. 

The City of Phil­adelphia De­part­ment of Com­merce’s Sa­fe­Cam Pro­gram in­volves the in­stall­a­tion of sur­veil­lance cam­er­as to make areas safer for both cus­tom­ers and the com­munity at large. 

Busi­ness own­ers who par­ti­cip­ate in the Sa­fe­Cam Pro­gram have the chance to be re­im­bursed for up to 50 per­cent of the total cost of eli­gible safety cam­era in­stall­a­tions for a single com­mer­cial prop­erty, ac­cord­ing to the city’s De­part­ment of Com­merce web­site.  

“I think it’s an awe­some pro­gram,” NK­CDC Com­mer­cial Cor­ridor Man­ager Henry Py­att said. “It will help neigh­bors, help solve crime, and let po­ten­tial per­pet­rat­ors know that they will get caught.” 

Many who at­ten­ded the meet­ing were con­cerned with what they thought was a lack of po­lice pres­ence in the neigh­bor­hood and called for an in­crease in foot and bike patrol of­ficers. 

“It would def­in­itely be good to see more of a po­lice pres­ence,” Sarah Lewis of Ad­orn Boutique said. “I think meet­ings like these do help and I will al­ways par­ti­cip­ate; however, I do think we all need to band to­geth­er to get more patrols in the area.”  

Lewis said she has had nuis­ance prob­lems at her store in the past, but takes the prop­er safety pre­cau­tions to en­sure her safety and the pro­tec­tion of her em­ploy­ees. 

“We have se­cur­ity cam­er­as, pan­ic but­tons, all the ne­ces­sary steps are be­ing taken,” she said. 

FABA Pres­id­ent Andy McGow­an said it’s go­ing to take both law en­force­ment and neigh­bors and busi­ness own­ers to cre­ate a safe en­vir­on­ment. 

“I think it’s im­port­ant for people to see that you can’t jump to blame the po­lice,” McGow­an said. “It was nice to see every­one get­ting the idea that the po­lice can get just as frus­trated as we are.” 

Us­ing the com­munity re­sources avail­able to them, he said, would help fa­cil­it­ate this goal. 

“Take ad­vant­age of your loc­al CDC, the po­lice, and each oth­er for help,” he said. 

There was also talk at the meet­ing of draft­ing a let­ter to send to loc­al politi­cians ask­ing for their help and sup­port. 

“I would ima­gine it would be ask­ing for an ex­plan­a­tion of what would be needed to get more patrols in the area,” McGow­an said when asked what such a let­ter would en­tail. 

“We need to band to­geth­er through these neigh­bor­hood or­gan­iz­a­tions and speak with one voice in or­der to af­fect change,” he said. 

New busi­ness own­er and FABA mem­ber Al­len Cham­bers, own­er and head in­struct­or at Phil­adelphia Self De­fense, spoke about the ser­vices his nearly two-month-old com­pany has to of­fer. 

“Part of what we would like to do is give back to the com­munity,” Cham­bers said. 

In the fu­ture, he said the busi­ness would like to of­fer free self-de­fense work­shops for FABA mem­bers.

“We want to make sure every­one’s aware of how to pro­tect them­selves,” he said. 

Des­pite people’s con­cerns, many area busi­ness own­ers said they do feel safe op­er­at­ing their busi­nesses in the neigh­bor­hood. 

“We all look out for each oth­er,” Ei­rini Dovas of Pin­nacle Per­form­ance Part­ners said.

Clete Cun­ning­ham echoes this sen­ti­ment. 

His weld­ing equip­ment com­pany on Trenton Street was star­ted by his fath­er and has been a neigh­bor­hood busi­ness for more than 60 years. 

“I do feel safe,” Cun­ning­ham said. “And I really al­ways have.” 

Cun­ning­ham also offered his own ad­vice.

“Get to know your neigh­bors,” he said. “Once people put a face to a par­tic­u­lar busi­ness, it should de­ter them from ever want­ing to mess with you.” 

To re­gister for the Sa­fe­Cam pro­gram or for more in­form­a­tion, vis­it sa­fe­cam.philly­po­ ••

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