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January 14, 2010

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14th District gets new captain and new policing system

Residents in the 14th Police District have their work cut out for them: getting to know a new captain and becoming familiar with a new policing system.

As of Monday, Capt. Joseph Bartorilla, of the 22nd Police District, will take over for Capt. Winton Singletary, who has moved on to head the Northwest Detectives Division, just as the city is completing its transition to Police Service Areas.

PSAs, as they are commonly referred to, are a new approach to policing large districts with a limited number of resources, namely officers and cars. The 14th district, which was previously divided into 30 sectors, will now be quartered into four PSAs.

Chestnut Hill will be in PSA 4, which encompasses Northwestern Avenue to Vernon Street/Allens Lane/St. Georges Road and Cheltenham Avenue to Wissahickon Creek.

PSA 1 will cover Cheltenham Avenue to Chew Avenue and Vernon Road/Gorgas Lane to 15th Street/Wyncote Avenue/Wister Avenue; PSA 2 will cover Wister Street to Gorgas Lane and Chew Avenue to Germantown Avenue; PSA 3 will cover Germantown Avenue to Wissahickon Creek and Queen Lane to Allens Lane/St. Georges Road.

The police department has been working on the transition to PSAs for some time. In the 14th, police have been monitoring the number of calls to each area in order to determine how to divide the district and allocate its resources among the new PSAs.

Inspector Aaron Horne, commanding officer of the Northwest Division, said the shift to PSAs will allow for better coverage with limited resources.

“In reality, we don’t have sufficient resources to cover the sectors,” he said. “Before, one police officer would be assigned to four or five sectors, and now that same officer will be part of a finite group assigned to an area.”

Because PSAs are determined by need, the change allows the department to allocate more resources to areas that have higher rates of violent crime.

“Each captain did an analysis with the administration downtown to look at how to divide the district,” said Horne of the process. “Now officers will only be pulled out of their PSA for an emergency that must be determined by a supervisor.”

In one way that will help areas like Chestnut Hill that do not see as much violent crime but still have a high rate of burglaries. Before, any officer could be sent to any call, and now the officers assigned to Chestnut Hill’s PSA will only be sent to calls in that area.

On the other hand, if there are a higher than usual number of calls on any given night, the number of officers in that area will not increase.

“We have been monitoring it [for three months] to see how often an officer is called from one PSA to another and so far our analysis has been accurate,” Horne said.

Bartorilla could not be reached for comment by press time.

The department also sees PSAs as a way of making itself and its officers more accountable. Each PSA has a lieutenant who will act as a “mini-captain.”

The police department is holding public meetings to introduce residents to the lieutenant for each PSA. The schedule is as follows: for PSA 1, the meeting will be held Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. at the H&H Center, Limekiln Avenue and Haines Street; for PSA 2, the meeting will be held on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. at New Bethel AME Church, Germantown Avenue and Tulpehocken Street; for PSA 3, the meeting will be held on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Germantown Home, Sedgwick Street and Germantown Avenue; and for PSA 4, the meeting will be held on Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Lutheran Seminary Amphitheater, Germantown Avenue and Allens Lane.



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