General

The Business of Safety Is Everybody's Business

The tragic killing of three people in the lobby of the New Castle County Court House in Wilmington, DE recently is something the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County tries actively to prevent through constant training and vigilance of the areas we are charged with protecting.

My condolences and prayers to the family and friends of those killed, and to the innocent people in the vicinity of the incident who witnessed the horrible event.

Anyone going to a public facility—especially a courthouse—should feel secure and confident as they go about their business.  The security and safety of the general public, judges, witnesses, defendants and the accused at the Criminal Justice Center (CJC), Traffic Court and Family Court here in Philadelphia are all our responsibility and we are constantly training our Deputy Sheriff’s and reviewing our security at each place.

Unfortunately, though, when someone with a gun is determined to use it, such a scenario is a challenge for even the best security.

The shootings in Wilmington occurred in the lobby of the county court house prior to people going through the metal detector.  The lobby area of the CJC in Philadelphia is constantly monitored by uniformed personnel who are trained to respond in an “active shooter” scenario, and we are always on high alert throughout the day as hundreds of people come in and out of the building.

We’ve beefed up our security by adding two officers on bikes to patrol the perimeter of the CJC, and though we are down in personnel overall, we will continue to keep a uniformed presence in the outer perimeter of the building.

Still, anyone seeing something suspicious, or notice a person acting erratically in, or near any of the above-mentioned facilities should make one of our Deputy Sheriff’s or any police officer in the vicinity aware of the situation.

Again, the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County does all that it can to insure the safety of those conducting business with the courts, but awareness on everyone’s part is welcome and appreciated as we go about our daily routine.

Sheriff For A Day: Ernie Ross

 

Ernie Ross, Jr., 18, was Sheriff For A Day on February 22nd as part of a city-wide "takeover" of government positions by PAL youth from across the city.  Ross spent the day with Sheriff Jewell Williams and Staff Inspector Paris Washington touring the different buildings and court rooms protected by the Deputy Sheriffs. Ross lives in the Allegheny West Community and is a member of the Hartranft PAL Center.   

 

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Early in my administration I met with several people from Women Against Abuse (WAB) to assure them I would continue to support their tireless efforts at ending the unconscionable violence inflicted on women usually by their husbands or boyfriends.

Though October is designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we should always remember that three women are murdered everyday by their husbands or boyfriends and assaulted or beaten every nine seconds here in America.

In fact, domestic violence causes more injuries to women than accidents and muggings combined, and 95-percent of those victims are women (an estimated 4 million per year) according to statistics from the Department of Justice.

Domestic violence also includes children, who often bear the emotional scars for years after the physical abuse has ended.

All sorts of societal stresses can trigger abuse, even when the victim attempts to alleviate the situation by getting a protection order from the court.

Sometimes the abuser shows up to intimidate, or even physically approach the person in court, which is why we have been working with WAB to make sure the Deputy Sheriff's who guard the courts are always aware and alert to such situations.

Domestic abuse also happens in same-sex partnerships, all age ranges, ethnicities, economic levels, and even heterosexual men are victims of abuse, which can be as verbally and emotionally harmful as outright physical abuse,

Some of the signs of domestic abuse include: obvious physical trauma such as a black eye; chronic stomach pains; anxiety; depression; unusual absence from work or school; and even substance abuse are often warning signs of a deeper problem.

With that in mind, please join me in making a personal commitment not only during Domestic Violence Awareness month, but to ALWAYS expose this type of violence through education, support and encouragement of its victims, and doing whatever you can to help those organizations like WAB, Women's Way, Women Organized Against Rape, and the many other groups and associations striving hard to make domestic abuse a rare and unusual occurrence in this country.

Meanwhile, we all deserve to be treated with respect and valued as human beings, and to live a life without constant fear and control.

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