GAYBORHOOD WATCH: What Police Are Doing to Curb the Recent Crime Wave
Last week, after I posted about Cimmaron M. Craig being jumped and mugged outside Voyeur in the Gayborhood, I started to hear about a string of similar incidents that have happened near that very same spot. Is the Gayborhood becoming a danger zone, I had to wonder?
To find an answer, I reached out to Franny Price, who, for the past two years, has been serving as co-chair on the Philly LGBT Police Liaison Committee (PLPLC). The nearly 20-year-old group meets with police officials on the second Thursday of every month to discuss safety in our gay nucleus and to strategize about ways to improve it. To my surprise, when I asked Price about the recent attacks she had little idea what I was talking about, saying that they only hear about altercations when people report them to the police, and apparently that’s not happening. “The Liaison Committee is meant to be the eyes and ears for the community, but we can only tell the police when we know something. When someone doesn’t call the police, we can’t help them.”
She tells me that a big reason victims aren’t notifying police is because they don’t trust the PPD: “There may be a few guys on the force who are homophobes,” she says, “but most people that I’ve talked to [who’ve had interactions with the police] have had a good experience.” She even says a member of the PLPLC could be available for anyone who needs support when filling out a report. A representative will even accompany a victim to a court date so no one has to be alone.
Tabu manager and G Philly scribe Alexander Kacala attended last Thursday’s PLPLC meeting at William Way to tell officials about a sketchy altercation he had with a stranger in April and the recent attack on Cimmaron M. Craig. This simple revelation prompted a vowed increase in police presence in the Gayborhood. Instead of patroling only on Friday and Saturdays nights, officials will now be around on Thursdays and Sundays, too. PLPLC has also put out a call to Gayborhood bar owners to provide a list of unsafe streets and alleys surrounding their properties. “It’s important to get [bars] involved,” she says, “because they do talk to each other and hear things more than anything.”
The next meeting will be on August 9. Starting at 6 p.m., the group will meet at the William Way Community Center, then embark on a walking tour around the Gayborhood with new Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel. She encourages anyone to attend the meetings, “because that’s how you keep the community safe — by letting people know what’s going on.”
Until then, she left me with a few safety tips (plus, I snagged a few from PLPLC’s Facebook page). Take note:
- Cell phone theft in the Gayborhood is unbelievable. … Don’t lay [cell phones] down, don’t walk around with them in your hand.
- Summer’s a little worse than the rest of the year, because everybody’s out and about. If you’re out and get really drunk, try to jump in a cab or stay with friends. Don’t be by yourself.
- Don’t leave packages unattended while you go to a restroom, have a friend, not a stranger, watch them for you.
- Don’t flash cash when you’re standing in line to make your purchase. Better yet, use your credit or debit card.
- Don’t wear expensive jewelry when out drinking with friends.
- Try not to invite strangers into your home.
If you do find yourself in a bind, call the PLPLC at 215 760-3686 (good number to save in your contacts folder.) Stay safe, firstname.lastname@example.org.