Philadelphia/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 18, 2024
Philadelphia Bolsters Kensington with 75 New Police Recruits to Tackle Persistent ChallengesSource: City of Philadelphia

The streets of Kensington, Philadelphia are set to undergo a significant shift as 75 new police recruits from the Philadelphia Police Department are deployed to patrol the area following their graduation on Monday. This move is part of a comprehensive plan to address the neighborhood's enduring issues, as reported by FOX 29. The significance of this influx cannot be understated; it represents the largest graduating class since 2018, according to city officials. It materializes amidst a tumultuous period for law enforcement, with calls to "defund the police" reverberating across the country. Despite this, Police Commissioner Kevin J. Bethel noted during the ceremony, as reported by 6ABC, "Defund the police, negative portrayals of police across America, and how about this ladies and gentlemen, they still decided to join our team."

Additional context to this significant deployment is provided by a recent legislative shift with Governor Josh Shapiro signing a law which lowers the bar for physical fitness evaluations leading to an increase in passing recruits; subsequently, the department is expected to hire 350 new officers by the end of 2024, holding nine academy classes this year to meet this goal and the recent graduates marking the class of 402, their first assignment is in Kensington and this was also mentioned by 6ABC.

This surge in policing coincides with recent efforts by the city to cleanse Kensington of chronic problems such as open drug markets and makeshift encampments. Last month, approximately 75 individuals living in tents on Kensington Avenue were displaced in a city-backed initiative aligning with Mayor Cherelle Parker's promise to rejuvenate the area. Parker herself reinforced this commitment to the new graduates, saying, "Just your presence there, getting to know the very people that you are sworn to protect and serve you help me make good on that promise of safe, clean, green, economic opportunity for all," as disclosed in 6ABC's report.

However, the strategy extends beyond the mere bolstering of police presence; it is a multifaceted battle including the installation of barricades or bike racks to prevent the resurgence of criminality, as noted by NBC Philadelphia, with the eventual goals of restoring community ownership and reducing police visibility once stability is achieved, this is part of the holistic approach endorsed by Commissioner Bethel who told 6ABC, "There's no playbook to dismantle an open drug market. We are creating that playbook."

As Kensington turns the page on its storied challenges, the eyes of Philadelphia will undoubtedly remain fixed on the outcomes of these new interventions and whether the intertwining of increased law enforcement and community restoration efforts can indeed manifest the safe, clean, green, and opportunity-abundant neighborhood that has been promised.