An ongoing police investigation concerning a recent accident has forced residents from the 1800 block of Willington Street to confront the larger issues surrounding a frequent neighborhood nuisance.“I saw the patrol car coming through the neighborhood at a high rate of speed—without concern and they just shot across the street and hit this pedestrian,” said Charles Hall, a witness at the site of the accident and a 40-year resident of Willington’s 1800 block.
This past Saturday slightly before 5 p.m. while acting in response to an assistance call, a police squad car struck a 33-year old woman before crashing into another vehicle on the road. Jolted onlookers flooded the scene at the intersection of Cecil B. Moore Avenue and North 18th Street as they watched the victim rendered helpless and trapped underneath the police car.
Although the officers were on duty and en route to provide back up, “the way they were speeding down the street looked like they were chasing somebody— I can understand that they were trying to do their job but — to me it’s like they aren’t concerned about pedestrians when they are on call.” said Hall. Throughout his years living in the North Central community, Hall has long taken issue with the regular occurrence of speeding cop cars within the neighborhood. In addition to the obvious safety hazards they impose. The number of police vehicles constantly speeding up and down the block also causes a temporary annoyance for residents.
“ It sets off a lot of car alarms. They don’t actually damage cars, but car alarms just jump off cause of the speeding and how fast they go. It’s very dangerous. We’ve been complaining about it for some time, but we haven’t been heard, ” explained Hall. Though filing complaints about the speeding police vehicles has done little to stop the problem, the police chaplain of the 22nd District, Rev. Evangelist Brown noted that in order for the police department to accurately investigate complaints against speeding vehicles, more detailed information is needed such as the squad car number, license plate and time of day the excessive speeding occurred.
Brown is also a resident of the 1800 block of Willington and as a police district employee she fully intends to make inquiries about the recent accident and causes at an upcoming meeting. With the 1800 block of Willington and the 22nd Police District at 17th and Montgomery Street just a few feet away from one another, residents know to be cautious at all times because “living so close to the police station and having cars zip by is a real problem in this area—yesterday there was an accident with a girl and we can’t be having that,” said block resident Bob Reese.
Despite living in the neighborhood for a short time, new residents on the block are just as affected by Saturday’s unforeseen crash. “The accident yesterday really shocked me. I don’t always see the cars, but I’ve definitely heard how fast they come by. It makes me really angry [because] cops are supposed to help us and someone got hurt in the process, ” said Gabby Ryan.
For nearly 15 minutes local authorities, fire fighters and ambulance staff worked together to successfully free the victim. Shortly after she was rescued, authorities on the scene could only confirm that the unidentified woman sustained a broken foot and was en route to stabilization at Temple University Hospital.
The Public Relations Department at the 22nd District has not released an official statement about the details of the incident. Currently, the identities of the victims, additional injuries sustained, information about civilians in the other car and the officers involved in the accident are still unknown to the public. According to a representative from the precinct’s public relations department, the necessary paperwork for this incident is still in progress.
With precise details of the accident still under investigation, there is obvious curiosity among citizens of the 1800 block as to what will happen. Many say that something should be done in order to protect people in the community and prevent another potentially fatal accident from reoccurring. “I think what should be done is maybe an investigation into the cop who did it himself or maybe into the entire station. This can’t go on only one person got hurt, but next time could be twice as bad,” said Ryan.
In addition to reprimanding officers for driving their vehicles without sufficient caution, residents also want police vehicles to abide by traffic laws and to give greater concern for pedestrians in the neighborhood while on duty. “I think they should pay attention to the lights, the stop signs that the city sets up and so forth. All they have to do is take their time and when you see there’s an opening and no one’s around, step on it. But the way they do it people can be all around and they still step on it,” said Hall.