South of South Ponders Safe Streets

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Police of the 17th District took the time to address the public of Police Service Area 1 at a community meeting. Addressing the meeting were L-R: Sergeant James Ross, Captain Michael O’Donnell, Inspector Joel Dales, Lieutenant Samantha Brown, and Sergeant George Rechner. Photo by Eldon Graham


A homicide on July 16 rattled the nerves of residents in a normally placid part of South Philadelphia.Last Thursday, police officers of the 17th District South Philadelphia Division addressed the meeting of the South of South Neighbors Association during a public-service announcement on recent criminal activity in the neighborhood.

The Police Community Meeting for PSA 1 (Police Service Area 1) was an opportunity for the community to speak face-to-face with officers.

Apart from the shooting at 22nd and Fitzwater streets, violent criminal activity has been moderately low. Inspector Joel Dales spoke for most of the meeting and calmed some of the concerns of a frightened public.

“Last year, there were zero shootings in this area,” Inspector Dales said. “This year, it was the very first shooting for the year.” The inspector reiterated that South of South – the neighborhood between South Street and Washington Avenue, Broad Street and the Schuylkill River – is one of the safest neighborhoods in South Philadelphia.

However, the inspector did make a point of letting the group of people in the meeting know that there is some nonviolent criminal activity going on in the neighborhood. “There is narcotics activity around here,” Inspector Dales said. “That’s why I brought Sgt. James Ross with me and he can address that issue.”

One narcotics arrest has been made in the area at the 2200 block of Fitzwater Street. Sgt. Ross wanted to let people know that if they’re worried about sending in a tip, his email box is always open. “For those of you who are a little leery about making a complaint or calling the tip line, send me an email.” His email address is and he checks his email daily.

With the police knowing of increased criminal activity they have beefed up patrols on the number of policeman in the area to combat the issue.

Police are still looking into the incident at 22nd and Fitzwater streets that left four people shot with one dead. As of today, the shooters are still at large. They are also looking for a possible motive for the slaying.

Police did say there was no return fire from the victims. The assailants were described as four males wearing all black, also wearing masks, who got out of two cars and opened fire. Police have considered that this incident might be gang-related, as there are several gangs that operate in and around the South Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Inspector Dale did have a message for the meeting: “We are out here, but we can’t be everywhere. This is where we need your help as well. If you see something, someone acting suspicious, call 911. We also have a tip line or you can go on our website On the tip on you will be completely anonymous.”

On the chances of catching the shooters, Sgt. George Rechner said, “Our homicide unit is one of the best in the nation. It has a very good clearance rate. Personally, I feel confident. I can’t give any guarantees, though; we do have unsolved homicides. They are really good at what they do and, like the inspector said, we have some really neat tools.” He also made a point of noting that gang activity in the area is “decreasing dramatically.”

A few crime statistics were thrown around at the meeting. In the 17th Police District, homicides are down 47% and shootings are down 20%, says the police brass.

If the public wants to take things a step further to increase safety in their neighborhoods while also indirectly assisting the police, it is recommended that people register their surveillance camera with SafeCam. SafeCam is one of the Philadelphia Police Department’s contemporary crime-prevention and investigation tools that demonstrates the effectiveness of partnerships between police and the community. Registering your camera not only helps deter crime, but can assist police crime-prevention strategies in your neighborhood.

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One Response to South of South Ponders Safe Streets

  1. It seems like the 17th District is safer this summer. Thanks for the dedicated police officers and the citizens that serve on the various PDAC boards.

    Michael Bell
    August 7, 2017 at 4:38 am

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