A plan to provide private security for a Philadelphia neighborhood backfired after the security force pulled out less than a month after they were hired.
Last September, police in the 15th District told leaders in the Bridesburg community that they didn’t have enough resources to patrol their neighborhood because they were too busy dealing with crime in nearby Frankford.
Angry, but determined to do something to prevent crime in their own area, Bridesburg residents decided to hire the Pennsylvania Private Police. Residents paid the private security company $20 per house per month for extra security. But after only 22 days, the company suspended their patrols.
“ surprised,” said Frank Kruzinski of the Bridesburg Neighborhood Watch. “Let down.”
Kruzinski says he heard about claims that the private police were overstepping their bounds. Then, last week, Kruzinski says Philadelphia Police found a private officer patrolling in a personal car that wasn’t registered.
“We start thinking, ‘Is that a liability that could actually fall back on the residents?’” said Kruzinski. “God forbid that car would’ve gotten in an accident that night.”
Pennsylvania Private Police officials called the situation a big misunderstanding. They say the unregistered car was a one-time mistake they had no way of knowing about and that the situation was poorly handled by the police supervisor. The officials say the incident exposed bigger rifts between Philadelphia Police which ultimately led to them suspending their service in both Bridesburg and neighboring Northwood.
Officials plan to refund the disappointed residents.
Bridesburg is part of the 15th District, which is the busiest district in Philadelphia and one of the largest. Officers in the 15th District patrol all or parts of the neighborhoods of Bridesburg, Frankford, Tacony, Wissinoming, Mayfair and Holmesburg. Police in the district have received more than 88,000 individual radio calls this year, or 345 a day.
While Bridesburg is generally safe, police say it’s had an uptick in property and drug crimes.
Residents say they want to stop the problems now before the neighborhood becomes a high crime area. For now however, they'll have to try and do that without the help of a private security force.