HUNDREDS OF Northeast Philadelphia residents signed City Councilman Bobby Henon's petition to split the 15th Police District so that the more violent southern sector, including Frankford, wouldn't drain cops from the northern neighborhoods, where break-ins are a bigger problem than assaults.
Supported by leaders from Mayfair, Bridesburg, Tacony, Holmesburg, Wissinoming and Frankford, Henon met with police brass to state the case for "The Split." He didn't get it.
Instead, the Philadelphia Police Department recently added 30 more officers to the 15th District.
Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross said, "By far, the 15th answers more calls for service than any other district in the city. In addition, it's one of the largest in terms of geography and population. This district probably should have had this number of officers for some time now."
Donny Smith, president of the Mayfair Civic Association, said, "Obviously, I'm thrilled to have 30 new cops coming to the 15th District. It's long overdue.
"But in 1989, a bunch of civic organizations got together and picketed for more cops and they got them - and here we are 25 years later," Smith said.
"So I'm worried about these 30 cops coming here and, once the issue dies down and the dust has settled, we lose them. When there's more shootings and stabbings in the southern end, these new cops could be assigned there, and we wind up with our pants down around our ankles again."
Still hopeful of someday splitting the 15th into two separate police districts, Smith scouted possible sites for the northern headquarters, including the Philadelphia Prison System Training Academy building on Torresdale Avenue in Holmesburg.
"If the district was split," he said, "we wouldn't be undermanned in the northern neighborhoods whenever there's trouble in the southern end. Remember, people here weren't signing a petition to get more cops in the 15th District. They were signing a petition to split the district in half."
Henon, who collected several hundred signatures on "The Split" petition, said "it's unprecedented for 30 officers to come in at once as a surge of help for an overworked, incredibly talented and trained police district with limited resources."
He said details of deployment and a "meet your officers" get-together will be part of the Sept. 27 Fall Festival, when Torresdale Avenue from Unruh to Longshore avenues will be closed off for food, music and children's play.
Henon said, "We can't change the behavior of the bad guys, but with 30 more officers we have a chance to go right into the belly of the beast and respond much quicker. But I'm not giving up on 'The Split.' "