The year 2014 brought many positive changes to the office, including a trend of progress and technological advancements that have expanded our services and made the office as user-friendly as possible.
We made significant increases in not only the amount of writs satisfied, but the time it takes to have one processed is now down to 15 minutes—an extraordinary accomplishment thanks to our new computing system and advanced training.
Our Defendant Asset Recovery Team (D.A.R.T.) has returned close to $2 million to those owed money from property sold at a sheriff sale, and we even kicked off a radio show—“The Sheriff’s Roundup”—on WURD-AM that airs the first Saturday of every month at 1 p.m.
Our topics have ranged from informing consumers about holiday scams and illegal lockouts and evictions, to how to apply for funds that may be owed from the sheriff sale of a property.
Our presence in the community has increased to include not only workshops and seminars, but also issuing Sheriff Clean Block Certificates to Block Captains across the city in conjunction with the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC).
We also presented special Sheriff Clean Block Awards to the First, Second, and Third Place winners of PMBC’s annual Clean Block Contest.
In our continuing efforts to both serve and educate the public, we’ve created special brochures and handouts that explain everything from what to do when you are faced with an eviction from an apartment or residence that has been ordered sold at sheriff sale.
We also sponsored a series of stories on the changing urban landscape spurred by unprecedented amounts of gentrification that ran as a supplement in the Philadelphia Daily News. It included invaluable information on this office, as well as referrals on grants to maintain your home, modify a mortgage, and even monetary support to help you through a rough period and keep your mortgage payments current.
Towards the end of the year our Bike Unit, under the leadership of Lieutenant Michael Bastone, started a toy drive to benefit children spending their holidays being treated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (CHOP).
The caravan to CHOP included a Sheriff’s Van that normally transports prisoners back and forth from area prisons to court. It was literally filled from top to bottom, back to front, with donated toys.
It was a good way to end the year, and a perfect statement about the kind of commitment to community and duty in which this office has evolved.
I personally look forward to 2015 because we have set a solid foundation for the year by creating the positive momentum in 2014.
Members of the Sheriff of Philadelphia's Bike Patrol Unit took to the streets of West Philadelphia to deliver bundles of toys on bikes and a truck that normally transports defendants back and forth to court was overflowing with bags of toys collected over several weeks by the Bike Unit and other employees of the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County. The toys were delivered to the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia for those patients unable to be in their own homes and beds over the holidays.
"We will stop domestic violence," said Sheriff Jewell Williams, "one man and one woman at time." The Sheriff spoke at the 100 Men Rally organized by the Lutheran Settlement House and held at Love Park on Saturday, October 18 in Center City Philadelphia.
The Sheriff urged that people "count to ten" instead of using hands to hurt our women, children or others. "Take a walk around the block, put your hands in your pocket" he said. Punching and bullying won't break the cycle but thinking before you act might. He urged that man or woman who have exhibited abusive behavior or grown up with it "seek help".....we must stop domestic violence, he said.
He urged the use of gun locks to prevent further damage and disruptions to any family.
Jewell Williams, the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County, participated in the Hero Thrill Show on Saturday, September 20th. The mission of the Hero Thrill Show is to raise money to pay for the college tuition of children of Philadelphia Police Officers, Firefighters and Sheriff Officers killed in the line of duty.
Sheriff Jewell Williams Joins Thousands of Others In Support Of the 30th Anniversary of National Night Out
Sheriff Jewell Williams joined several other politicians and dignitaries including Congressman Bob Brady, Mayor Michael Nutter, City Councilman Curtis Jones, members of the band Pieces of A Dream, as well as union officials and dozens of others at the kickoff of the National Night Out activities at 75th & Lansdowne Avenue.
The event on August 4th, 2014, kicked off dozens of other activities held across the city in recognition of the 30th Anniversary of National Night Out which began here in Philadelphia in 1984.
“The significance of National Night Out is much more than people turning on their porch lights, or sitting on their steps”, said Sheriff Williams. “It is a national event that focuses on the spirit and sense of responsibility and accountability that makes a neighborhood worthy of the name, and enhances the quality of life for the individuals living there”.
Sheriff Williams also participated in activities at the Feltonville Boys & Girls Club, Parkside Association of Philadelphia, and the South of South Town Watch organization.
At any given time, and on any given day, it’s not unusual to see people camped out on the sidewalk with a cardboard sign requesting money, or walking around a busy intersection looking for a handout.
According to the signs, some are homeless, while others just need a few coins for something to eat.
They are young and old, black and white, and include even a growing number of veterans in these ranks of the unfortunate.
In my position as Sheriff of the City and County of Philadelphia, it disturbs me to see any one forced to beg and/or sleep on the streets, and especially disturbing when they are veterans who have already sacrificed so much in service to their country.
Statistics say the number of homeless veterans will continue to rise as they return home from places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and any theater of engagement where their lives are under constant threat.
It is troubling on many levels to have served your country honorably as a member of the Armed Forces, only to return to challenges and hurdles that may have arisen as a result of that same service, especially if they were in combat situations.
Among the organizations doing outreach on the street level is the Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF) Veterans Program that targets veterans and their families who are either homeless, or are at risk of losing their homes.
The program offers:
Workers in the UESF Veterans Program literally drive around seeking out homeless veterans on the street, and have done intake interviews with homeless individuals as they rest on cardboard mats on the sidewalk.
The organizations motto is a simple one: “Keeping Vulnerable Families in Their Homes”.
So if you know a veteran, the spouse of a veteran, or someone living in the household of a veteran who is homeless or close to losing their home, please pass along the following information.
UESF Veterans Program
Detective Joe Rovnan of the Homeland Security Division of the Philadelphia Police Department, Senior Director of Crime Prevention Services Stacy Irving of the Philadelphia Center City District, and Sheriff's Department Staff Inspector Paris Washington all spoke on the importance of developing an "Active Threat Plan" at the June 11th meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Condo Managers Association.
Jewell Williams, Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County (left) participated in Career Day at the Albert M. Greenfield School in Center City Philadelphia along with Marine Corps Reserve Captain Sean A. Toolan (middle) who has a son there in the second grade, and Deputy Sheriff Officer Marquet Parsons, a graduate of Greenfield.
Sheriff Wiliams spoke about the importance of education and delivered an anti-bullying message to a kindergarten and fifth grade class during the day.
Sheriff Jewell Williams Encourages Residents to Take Advantage of Financial Assistance Programs for Home Repairs
Spring has finally arrived and I know many are preparing to do urgent home repairs and cleanup after an extremely harsh winter.
Some will have to invest sizeable dollars in major repairs involving roofs, sidewalks, and even the removal of trees and fallen fences.
For those already economically challenged to keep up with their mortgages, there are several programs available to help ease the financial burden of putting your home back in shape.
The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, for example, has a Basic Systems Repair Program that provides free repairs to “the electrical, plumbing and heating systems of owner-occupied homes in Philadelphia,” as well as “free replacement of a house’s roof if major interior damage such as a collapsing ceiling is evident”.
Certain income restrictions and other requirements regarding residency must be met, but the program is certainly worth exploring, especially if you are a senior living on a fixed income.
Also, the City’s Office of Supportive Housing has a “Rapid Re-Housing” program that “may include cash assistance with rent, utilities and security deposits too”.
Another great resource is the Save Your Home Philly Hotline at (215) 334-4663, that sets you up with a housing counselor if your home is in default. This is the first step to applying for possible assistance from the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, commonly known as HEMAP.
We are also working on putting together a resource page on our web site that lists numerous agencies and programs that may help you not only save your home, but improve it as well and possibly increase its value.
As the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County, I have directed my staff to increase the number of workshops and seminars we conduct in the community, and to continue with our twice monthly classes on How To Purchase Property At A Sheriff’s Sale conducted in English and Spanish at 100 S. Broad Street.
Finally, I look forward to visiting individual blocks and neighborhoods through the fall as part of our support of the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee and the hundreds of individuals who work so diligently to maintain not only their property, but the community as a whole.
This winter has already become one of the most challenging I can remember.
Cold, snow, rain, wind, and even short spells of temperatures over 50-degrees has also made it one of the most unpredictable seasons on record.
For many, that also translates into broken water pipes, leaky roofs, fallen trees and all sorts of unexpected hurdles in regards to damage and repairs that may, or may not be covered by insurance.
This can be an extra burden on those already struggling to keep up mortgage payments or stay on track with modified payment plans.
With that in mind I encourage you to stay abreast of available services and resources for those in financial distress and are on the verge of missing one or more mortgage payments.
Meanwhile, I also wanted to recognize that February is Black History Month, a special time to celebrate and appreciate the accomplishments of countless of our American brothers and sisters who have enhanced the quality and greatness of this wonderful nation.
I recently had the pleasure and honor of placing a wreath at the Liberty Bell in conjunction with the National Freedom Association in recognition of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America.
Joining me in the ceremony was Carolyn V. Jordan, the great granddaughter of Richard R. Wright, Sr., founder of the National Freedom Day Association, and father of Richard N. Wright whose world acclaimed novels include “Black Boy,” “Native Son” and “Uncle Tom’s Children”.
I was also the keynote speaker at the event and sincerely appreciated the presence of so many young people who participated.
So, as February continues to unwind with bouts of cold and snow, I hope the cultural warmth of the month enfolds you and keep us all mindful of the importance of our youth and how any rise to greatness depends heavily on the consistency of house and home.