Dozens of new police officers set to patrol the streets of Kensington

On Monday, seventy-five new officers graduated from the Philadelphia Police Academy. They will start their careers as part of a push to improve the community in the city's Kensington neighborhood

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Dozens of new police officers graduated from the Philadelphia Police Academy on Monday and their first duty will be to hit the streets of Kensington as part of the push to improve the city's poorest neighborhood.

These new recruits, Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Kevin Bethel has said, will be part of the "enforcement phase" that is underway in the community.

Through this phase, Philadelphia police will target drug dealers, conduct warrant sweeps and crack down on prostitution as well as other quality of life crimes.

In announcing this plan, Bethel said, that new officers will be put to work in Kensington to provide more foot beats in the community and will focus on addressing open-air drug sales as well as issues with violence in that community.

Just how long this phase will take, Bethel has said, it's not set in stone and will continue until city officials see a significant change in the community.

"There is no playbook, so we humble ourselves knowing that we go into this operation being very fluid and very nimble," Bethel said.

Adding officers into the mix is just the latest stage in an ongoing effort to improve Kensington.

Last month, city workers and police cleared an encampment of about 75 people living in tents along the sidewalk of Kensington Avenue as part of the improvement plan.

Bethel said last week that, since that encampment was cleared, the city's police force have worked regularly to get people struggling with addiction to services they need.

Mayor Cherelle Parker has made Kensington a focus for her administration since she took office. And, City councilmembers created a caucus aimed at improving the neighborhood.

The next phase of the city’s plan for Kensington will include police personnel securing and keeping criminal behavior out of the neighborhood with the help of barricades or bike racks on the sidewalks until the areas are restored.

The fourth and fifth stages are expected to focus on returning the community back to its owners and decreasing police presence if and when improvements are made.

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