MAYOR, COUNCIL PRESIDENT ANNOUNCE INSTALLATION OF 100 “SAFE PLAY ZONE” CAMERAS NEAR 14 REC CENTERS
Mayor Jim Kenney and Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) this week announced the installing of over 100 security cameras outside recreation centers across the city to create “Safe Play Zones” for children and families.
The 14 Safe Play Zone camera sites were chosen by Philadelphia Police, based on crime data, in collaboration with the Managing Director’s Office and Office of Information & Technology.
The idea for security cameras outside recreation centers arose in City Council in 2021 in legislation introduced on Council President Clarke’s behalf. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the procurement process, but Council allocated nearly $5 Million to install and operate these cameras in the Five-Year Financial Plan adopted in the FY2023 budget.
There have been nearly 300 incidents of gun violence at or near city parks and recreation facilities since 2019, according to Parks & Recreation Department Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. In 2022, a Parks & Recreation employee, Tiffany Fletcher, was fatally shot when caught in a crossfire outside Mill Creek recreation center in West Philadelphia.
At a news conference Wednesday outside Marie Denby Recreation Center, 10th & Oxford Streets, North Philadelphia, Council President Clarke and Mayor Kenney joined other city officials to make the case that these 100 Safe Play Zone cameras would help make recreation centers safer spaces for children and families.
“These cameras are essential as Philadelphia police create a safety net around our rec centers and playgrounds,” Council President Clarke said. “Our kids need safe spaces to play, and this initiative is one more step to help achieve that for them.”
Philadelphia police made the decisions for the new cameras based on crime data in the areas immediately around recreation centers.
The recreation centers chosen for this initial flight of security cameras, which will be tied into a central intelligence network monitored around the clock by police personnel at the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center in South Philadelphia, are:
- Hunting Park Recreation Center (12 cameras);
- Hancock Rec (8 cameras);
- Lonnie Young Rec (10 cameras);
- Tanner G. Duckery Playground (11 cameras);
- Marie Denby Rec (11 cameras);
- Francis Myers Rec (10 cameras);
- Cecil B Moore Rec (3 cameras);
- Russo Park Playground (11 cameras);
- Happy Hollow Rec (9 cameras);
- Wissinoming Park (12 cameras);
- Martin Luther King Rec (10 cameras);
- McVeigh Rec (10 cameras);
- Feltonville Rec (8 cameras);
- Rivera Rec (3 cameras installed – 4 more on the way)
“The installation of 129 surveillance cameras at 14 Safe Play Zone rec centers is an example of what can be accomplished when City Council, the Managing Director’s Office, Parks & Recreation, The Office of Innovation & Technology, and the Police Department work collaboratively toward our common goal to enhance public safety – especially for our city’s children and youth,” said Managing Director Tumar Alexander. “Once the rebuild is completed at Rivera Rec, the remaining seven cameras will be installed and we are adding Mill Creek Rec Center for the final site.”
COUNCILMEMBER PHILLIPS CALLS FOR HEARINGS INTO CITY’S EMERGENCY RESPONSE TO CHEMICAL SPILL IN DELAWARE RIVER TRIBUTARY
Councilmember Anthony Phillips (9th District) introduced a resolution calling for hearings to examine the city’s emergency response to a chemical spill last month in a Bucks County tributary of the Delaware River. The chemical spill was ultimately absorbed by the River, with no adverse public health effects reported thus far. But the city’s emergency response and public messaging came under criticism, and led city residents to a spree of panicked purchasing of bottled water over a period of several days.
“Philadelphians without ready access to bottled water were left with the possibility that their tap water may be considered contaminated within only a matter of hours and were provided with no alternatives to secure drinking water,” the resolution states, adding criticism that the city did not do a good enough job communicating in other languages either.
“The administration had not previously established a plan for the emergency distribution of water to our most vulnerable residents despite the Delaware River’s long history of vulnerability to credible threats posed by industrial facilities,” the resolution states, adding “the City’s response to the toxic chemical spill raises concerns over trust among residents in the City’s drinking water supply.”
A hearing will be scheduled in Council at a later date.
SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA…
April 15 is the deadline to apply to be a lifeguard and qualify for a $1000 end-of-season bonus! That means THREE DAYS left to apply at https://t.co/vUyFdFQZxg.
Reason #3 to be a lifeguard with Parks & Rec: Stay fit and healthy! You can move and swim on the job this summer. pic.twitter.com/xl9OpfzD6H
— Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (@PhilaParkandRec) April 13, 2023
COUNCILMEMBER JONES OFFERS RESOLUTION URGING SUPPORT FOR STATE BILLS REGULATING GHOST GUNS
Majority Leader Curtis Jones, Jr., (4th District) who chairs Council’s Public Safety Committee, offered a resolution urging the General Assembly to approve legislation prohibiting untraceable firearms and another bill that would ban “ghost gun” parts.
The resolution notes that Philadelphia Police have seen a stark increase in the amount of “ghost guns” on the streets in recent years; nearly one in 10 guns seized by police are homemade. This is due to gaps in Pennsylvania law that still allow the sale of such weapons without any oversight.
Ghost guns are untraceable, unserialized weapons that can be bought online, usually as kits, and assembled at home. These kits can be purchased by virtually anyone, including underage individuals, prohibited purchasers, domestic abusers, gun traffickers, and other dangerous individuals. No background check is necessary to acquire a ghost gun.
The resolution notes that President Biden took executive action last August, implementing a rule requiring a background check for those who want to purchase a kit. Additionally, those selling the kits would be required to include a serial number on all of the components, so that the completed firearm can be traced.
PA House Bill 776, introduced by Rep. Morgan Cephas and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, closes the loopholes in Pennsylvania law that allow the sale and distribution of ghost guns without serial numbers.
House Bill 777, introduced by Rep. Cephas, declares 3-D printed firearms illegal. These deadly weapons are undetectable by traditional security measures and untraceable due to the absence of serial numbers. While different than ghost guns, 3-D printed guns pose a similar danger and also need to be regulated.
“Banning ghost guns and other undetectable firearms is the first step to keeping Pennsylvania and Philadelphia safe, reduce gun violence, and lower violent crime rates,” the resolution states, before urging the Assembly to approve both bills and for Gov. Shapiro to sign them when they reach his desk.
IN OTHER NEWS
Councilmember Phillips introduced legislation that would crack down on and further regulate and govern “nuisance businesses” across the city – smaller businesses which might sell drug paraphernalia, for example. Phillips’ 9th Council District, like several other Districts, have long been plagued by nuisance businesses. Philllips’ proposed legislation would tighten up rules and regulations and make clearer steps that city agencies like Licenses & Inspections can take to crack down on these businesses.
OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK
FY2024 Budget Hearings – Streets, Licenses and Inspections, Public Property 4-3-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – Prisons, Fleet Management 4-3-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – Law Department, District Attorney 4-4-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – District Attorney cont, Sheriff and First Judicial District 4-4-2023
Committee on Licenses and Inspections 4-5-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – Managing Director, Police Department 4-11-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – Behavioral Health, Public Health, Homeless Services 4-11-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – CAO, Procurement, Human Resources 4-12-2023
FY2024 Budget Hearings – OIT, Planning and Development 4-12-2023
Stated Meeting of Philadelphia 4-13-2023
The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia City Hall, Room 400 and will air on Xfinity Ch. 64, Fios Channel 40 and stream at www.PHLCouncil.com/watch.
Featured Photo: Jared Piper/PHLCouncil