FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHILADELPHIA (September 6, 2022) – As pedestrian volumes on Center City sidewalks approach pre- pandemic levels and as more workers are returning to downtown offices, the Center City District (CCD) is ramping up safety, outreach and crime prevention efforts in partnership with public and private security to create a welcoming environment for residents, workers and visitors. In addition to 110 sidewalk cleaners who sweep and pressure wash sidewalks and remove graffiti, three public safety programs are expanding to more than 90 staff.
(1) CCD is expanding its team of unarmed, uniformed safety ambassadors known as Community Service Representatives (CSRs), who have provided a friendly, helpful and highly recognizable presence on downtown sidewalks for more than three decades. After raising salaries for CSRs this spring, CCD will increase the number on street from 42 to more than 50 by mid-fall.
CSR foot patrols are equipped with two-way radios and serve as “eyes and ears” on the street for the police. They provide information and directions, administer first aid, request police services and provide outreach to unsheltered individuals. Specially trained CSRs also survey every block in the Center City District monthly, reporting overflowing municipal trash cans, non-functioning street lights, damaged traffic signs, or clogged storm drains. CCD communicates any issues to the responsible agency and follows up to ensure prompt attention.
(2) The bicycle safety patrol launched and funded by CCD is also expanding. Introduced in fall 2020 and augmented in spring 2022 to provide enhanced, mobile, public safety services within the District and support the recovery process, the CCD contracts with Allied Universal for the uniformed, unarmed bicycle safety patrols that are coordinated with both the CSR program and the Philadelphia Police Department.
Starting in September, CCD is increasing these uniformed bike patrols, which operate seven days per week in two shifts, to more than 45 positions. This will enable deployment to increase from 20 to 25 bike patrol staff on the street each day – 15 working the day shift (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and 10 working the afternoon/night shift (3 p.m. to 11 p.m.).
(3) The Ambassadors of Hope program initiated and funded by CCD since 2018 is expanding from two to three homeless outreach teams. The teams consist of Project HOME outreach workers; a crisis- intervention trained Philadelphia Police Officer from the Central Service Detail, a Community Service Representative Homeless Outreach Team member from CCD, along with a CSR manager with a vehicle available to transport those in need to services and shelter. Currently, the Ambassadors of Hope (AoH) teams patrol on foot and cover the Center City District’s entire footprint, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with daily emphasis on engaging with chronically homeless individuals at recurrent gathering locations.
In October 2021, CCD added a mental health outreach worker from Penn Medicine to the AoH teams, bringing specialized expertise and connections to additional networks providing addiction treatment, shelter and housing for individuals with mental health and cognitive issues and the ability to assess and prepare mental health committal petitions for individuals in crisis. The third team that is being added will work Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Through consistent interaction with the AoH teams, more than 500 unsheltered clients have accepted help and were transported to service or treatment providers geared toward their individual needs, shelter or housing, with CCD providing the transportation in about 80% of the cases. In 2021, 140 individuals accepted services and help and came off the street. More than one-third of those accepting services were chronically homeless individuals who had resisted help and placement in the past.
The expansion of the Ambassadors of Hope and the bike patrol is made possible due to funds raised through the Center City District Foundation. Contributions to the CCDF are welcome to help continue this important work.
Finally, the CCD is now routinely hosting meetings of federal, state, city and transit law enforcement professionals and private security firms working for major downtown employers and institutions to ensure continuous communication and effective on-street coordination of deployment.
September 27, 2022 | Safety concerns in Center City lead to more unarmed bike patrols and security guards around office buildings, The Philadelphia Inquirer
September 10, 2022 | Center City boosts safety efforts as office workers, visitors return, KYW Newsradio
Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find us at www.centercityphila.org.