PHA Residents Help Police to make Communities Dramatically Safer

Crime statistics at PHA sites plummeted in 2016

(Philadelphia, PA - February 8, 2017) -The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), working closely with residents, has achieved a stunning decrease in crime at its developments.

Statistics just released for 2016 show crime fell in virtually all categories, with thefts decreasing by 68%, robberies cut in half, and sexual assaults down by 78%.  Overall, crime decreased in 2016 by over 41%.

PHA made the decision to increase the size of its police department 3 years ago after Kelvin A. Jeremiah assumed the role of President and CEO. Jeremiah not only committed to increasing the number of sworn Police Officers, but also ensuring that at least 10 PHA residents would be recruited to join the force.  

"Our goal continues to be to make PHA communities 'neighborhoods of choice'," Jeremiah said.  "A feeling of safety and well-being plays an important role in that.  The increase in the department and having a police department that works hand-in-hand with residents to create crime-free areas is definitely paying dividends.  I want to thank PHA's Board of Commissioners for its support, and commend Chief Bard, the entire PHA Police Department, and the residents on their collaboration so that everyone can have a sense of security that all citizens deserve." 

Jeremiah stated that in addition to the PHAPD expansion, PHA invested heavily in a closed circuit television (CCTV) security system and multilayered door entry access controls.

PHA Police Chief Branville Bard credits involvement by residents for helping make PHA communities safe. 

"We took our cue from PHA resident leaders who wanted us to focus our efforts strictly on PHA communities rather than including the broader areas around our sites," Bard said.  "Having our officers concentrated at our developments has allowed us to increase community engagement and work more closely with residents."

Another initiative that has contributed to the trend is PHA's decision to recruit PHA residents to the PHA Police Department.  Once hired, these men and women undergo the same training as Philadelphia police officers.  An officer who will soon graduate from the police academy will bring the total number of resident officers to eight, all of whom are assigned to their home developments and others. They are fully accredited full-time sworn officers.

Chief Bard says they have had an immediate positive impact. "They have roots already established in the community, so that allows them to hit the ground running. They know these areas very well. And individual residents feel more comfortable going to them because they know them."

PHA enjoys an enhanced relationship with the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), which allows PHA to share information and systems.  Chief Bard has a close working relationship with Philadelphia Commissioner Richard Ross and other members of the PPD.  That kind of coordination is instrumental in helping PHA's focused efforts.

But it is resident involvement that has made the largest contribution.  PHA's Board of Commissioners includes two resident leaders. They in turn lead the PHA Police Advisory Board.

"We use the police advisory board to identify and attack the big problems," Bard said. "We work with these leaders on tough issues. Based on their feedback, we moved to high visibility patrols in certain areas during certain times. They helped us focus on domestic violence, which was the source of a lot of our aggravated assault and child safety. This partnership is working very well."