Men of color, all vying to be the 99th mayor of Philadelphia, expound upon their vision for community policing.
Mr. Nelson Diaz, a former Philadelphia City Solicitor and the only Latino mayoral candidate, grew up afraid of police.
All he saw as a kid, as many do today, is negative interactions: searches and arrests.
It wasn’t until Mr. Diaz began going to his local PAL Center that his perception of police went from enemy to friendly.
“When I used to get stop-and-frisked or arrested, it was the cop from the PAL Center who would recognize me and tell them I was a good kid and have me released” said Mr. Diaz, who called the cops, back then, his friends.
It’s a friendlier, more community-orientated model that the successful businessman vying to be the 99th Mayor of Philadelphia wants to see employed in the present-day.
And if elected, it’s a model, says Mr. Diaz, that Commissioner Charles Ramsey would be expected to “employ” fully, and if he doesn’t, Mr. Diaz –who’s sat on three policing task force, including one in 1981 when appointed by then mayor, Mr. Bill Green – will find someone who’s willing to comply.
“He’s a very popular individual. If the President asked for his advice, I should be able to ask his advice,” he said, again reiterating the condition that Mr. Ramsey can stay in his position only if he decided to adopt the community policing agenda.
State Senator, Mr. Anthony Hardy Williams, said community policing is a “little more than rec centers.”
Senator Williams, the first mayoral candidate to endorse the DOJ’s 91 recommendations for improving the Philadelphia Police Department, said it’s about feeling that you’re valued and trusted on both sides.”
There’s never been a perfect relationship between police and communities of color in Philadelphia. But Senator Williams says during Mr. Sylvester Johnson’s tenure, the police commissioner who preceded Mr. Ramsey, “district workshops were packed.”
“He worked very hard at creating community policing.”
Senator Williams said the break in the relationship came when the City began focusing more on data – which he acknowledges his important – instead of “visibility in the community.”
Former State Senator, Mr. Milton Street, blames the Nutter Administration for doing away with all the community initiatives his brother, Mr. John Street, implemented as Mayor.
Mr. Street also called Commissioner Ramsey “the worst,” and said if elected, he will “hire someone from Philadelphia, who grew up in Philadelphia.”
“Community policing is hiring people in the community to police the community in connection with your police department to generate a fast response and prevention tool,” said Mr. Street, who pointed to the upcoming Democratic National Convention as the perfect place to lobby for funding a pilot program that pays residents a livable wage to police their communities.
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