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Crime and Safety–A priority for Philadelphia communities

October 18, 2011

POP Conference

Attending the Problem Oriented Policing Conference (POP) is not the first thing I thought about when signing on as a program officer for a community development intermediary.  Working on resolving crime and safety issues in the neighborhoods where we are building a better quality of life, is however, of utmost importance to changing the landscape of most communities that lie on the border of distress and revitalization.  Often community development is seen as bricks and mortar development, leaving one to the assumption that “If you build it, they will come,” and that is the end of the story.  In today’s world of community development, addressing all quality of life issues in neighborhood redevelopment are crucial to the neighborhood’s long lasting success and improved quality of life.  Thus, integrating community safety initiatives as a priority for Philadelphia neighborhoods is a must.


The LISC National Crime and Safety Initiativeworks to address safety issues in Sustainable Communities all across the country.  As a part of the work police departments: Chiefs of Police, captains, lieutenants, and their officers are all working toward engaging communities in a proactive way to prevent crime rather than simply enforcing the law.  The POP Conference is a place for police officers and community stakeholders to embrace problem oriented policing together, teaching analysis techniques like SARA (scanning, analysis, response, and assessment), CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), and Safegrowth (Stage 2 of CPTED).  All of these tactics are aimed at engaging community stakeholders including residents in addressing both crime problems that are seemingly institutional to neighborhoods, but also crime problems that present themselves as emerging crises that places in transition sometimes experience, like break ins as new homes emerge.

The newly re-opened Rainbow de Colores Park

In 2010, Philadelphia LISC successfully engaged community organizations through our Sustainable Communities’ lead agencies facilitating CPTED and Safegrowth trainings.  In each neighborhood the trainings provided hands on tools to redevelop very specific crime hot spots into safer places to live and play.  In eastern North a park was reborn and police officers are receiving bikes to respond to crime in a quicker manner and to engage community residents in a more approachable mode of transportation. In West residents traveling to and from work on the El have are now seeing the light.  A lighting strategy designed to allow people to feel safer is currently in the works. 

The El station at 46th and Market in West Philadelphia will receive a lighting facelift.

The POP conference highlighted the wildly successful approaches to tackling difficult crime problems.  Most importantly, the POP conference served as a platform for individuals from the safety community, government and the non profit world, to come together to discuss ways to successfully integrate partnerships.  Moving forward in Philadelphia there will be multiple opportunities to employ these strategies.  In eastern North Philadelphia, where a year long planning process commenced this summer, the neighborhood is ripe for a new set of problem-oriented trainings.  Those trainings too, will be directly linked to tangible projects for residents and organizations to tackle.  The ultimate goals of course being to reduce crime, engage the community, and improve the quality of life for all of us who live, work, and play in vibrant and dynamic neighborhoods like eastern North andWest Philadelphia.

By Sarah Sturtevant

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