Philadelphia sheriff promotes first Latino captain

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Latino has reached the rank of captain for the first time in the 300-year history of the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office.

Capt. Michael Bastone was among five men promoted by Sheriff Jewell Williams.

The office says Bastone scored the second highest of those who took the test. He's been with the sheriff's office for 25 years.

Bastone said in a statement that he was humbled.


Published in the New Jersey Herald on May 27, 2015

Phila. collects more from foreclosures, tax seizures

Payments to Philadelphia's city treasury and utilities, from mortgage foreclosures and delinquent tax, gas and water bills, surged to $58.3 million last year, a 40% jump from $34.4 million in 2013, according to a statement from the city's elected Sheriff, Jewell Williams. The office, which also transport prisoners, has in the past been accused of inefficiency and favoritism in its management of delinquent property accounts.

"The increase in revenue can be attributed to two changes," says Williams' office: First: a new policy "that requires purchasers of properties to make final settlement within thirty days after the sale is held. In the past, final payment could be made months after a property was sold." Second, "a new data management system which increased the speed of processing sales and collecting payments."

“The faster we get paid for properties, the faster we can send delinquent taxes and municipal fees to the City,” Williams said in a statement. The payments include $22.7 million in back taxes from foreclosed properties, $8.5 million in back water bills, and $5.4 million to the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works. 

Willaims also says his office has speeded up processing deeds to foreclosure buyers to "20 days or less," from "months" in the past. "People who purchase properties at sheriff sales need a deed to take possession of the property and return it to productive use," Wiliams added.


Sheriff's Office Bike Patrol Delivers Gifts to CHOP

Plaque Dedicated To Fallen Deputy Sheriff Who Died Trying To Stop A Robbery

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Deputy Sheriff who died back in 1982 trying to stop two men from robbing a bar in West Philadelphia now has a plaque dedicated in his honor, laid in the sidewalk in front of the Criminal Justice Center.

It’s the 266th Hero Plaque Dedication, but organizer James Binns notes Roy Fortson, Jr. was the first Philadelphia Deputy Sheriff to be killed in the line-of-duty, since the office was founded in 1750.

“He could have taken a pass. The law enforcement officer in him came out and he did engage them, but was shot five times and killed.”

His family is grateful for the recognition, including Fortson’s widow, Edna.

“My heart is overwhelmed. I feel the love that you showed my husband. As a servant of god, he did what he was required to do that night, not knowing that it would be his last.”

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams says laying the plaque outside the Criminal Justice Center serves as a reminder of the challenges brave officers face, and that “we will never forget a fallen officer.”


Written by Steve Tawa for CBS News on June 1, 2014.

After 50 years, N. Phila. block captain is stepping down

For Helen Clowney, working with and serving the neighbors on her neatly kept, tree-lined block in North Philadelphia has been a labor of love - one that has endured a half-century.

Looking out on the cherry blossoms that brighten the 2200 block of North Woodstock Street, Clowney speaks with pride of the street where she has lived her entire life and served as a block captain for 50 years. She is retiring this spring.

"It's a family block. It's like family. We're very close," Clowney said Thursday.

"If somebody gets sick, everybody steps in and helps," she said. "If they need something, we try to help them get it. It's just a close-knit block."

Last week, Clowney was honored by her neighbors, family, and community leaders at her church, St. Martin de Porres. More than 100 people attended.

Clowney, a widow who doesn't like to discuss her age, said she knew every person living on the block of 70 homes between Susquehanna Avenue and Dauphin Street.

"I can tell you who lives in each house," Clowney said.

And her neighbors know her for her activism, her generosity, and the whistle she blows when calling for them to participate in street cleanups several times a year.

"Miss Helen is one of the icons of this block," said neighbor Paul Richards. "She's going to be sorely missed as our block captain."

When it's time to clean up the block, "she gets out that whistle," Richards said. "She goes from the top of the block, blowing that whistle, and she has a few of the kids knocking on doors."

When the work is done, she gives everyone a treat, Richards said, usually a pretzel and water ice.

He and others said Clowney is known for organizing the street's annual Memorial Day block party.

Another neighbor, Bernice Hines, also recalled Clowney blowing her whistle to call out neighbors for projects.

"She used the whistle to say, 'All you lazy birds, get out here. You're a part of this block. Show your commitment to it,' " Hines said.

Asked what she liked about being a block captain, Clowney said, "It just makes me feel good inside. When we have affairs in the block, we never have any trouble. Everybody is just family."

Clowney noted that she has a cocaptain, Willie Mae Clark, who has worked with her for many years. "She's a very good person, and I think she should be recognized, too," Clowney said.

Clowney, a graduate of Philadelphia High School for Girls who spent her life as a stay-at-home mother with one child, said she enjoyed walking children to school and back home again.

Among her other interests, she said, she enjoys spending time at the Martin Luther King Older Adult Center on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, where she leads a poetry class.

Clowney also likes to cut a few steps doing line dances. She said she enjoys doing the electric slide and the cha-cha slide. "The Baltimore - that's my favorite. They named that one after me," she quipped. "I taught my granddaughter, my son-in-law, and my daughter."

Her son-in-law, Tony Leonard, said Clowney goes to meetings with elected officials in the community and attends monthly meetings with police at the 22d District at 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue. She describes Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who grew up in the neighborhood, as "two of my kids."

She is pleased that a neighbor, Jannette Robinson, will take over as block captain. Clowney said the street also has three junior block captains, two boys and a girl.

Clowney said she was stepping down because "I thought it was time enough for someone else to step up to the plate and take my place after 50 years."

Hines, her neighbor, stood on her front steps and looked down proudly.

"You see this block and the way it looks. It looks this way because of her," Hines said. "She has worked hard to keep it intact."


Written by Vernon Clark for the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 6, 2014.

Operation Sunrise 2014

Last week Sheriff Jewell Williams lead Operation Sunrise, a city wide sweep which brought in over a dozen fugitives with outstanding warrants.

Sheriff Williams Honors Retiring Block Captain After 50 Years of Service

Action News Profiles Sheriff's At Risk Student Art Gallery

A display of artistic expression by at-risk youth

AT-RISK YOUTH have voices too, and InLiquid Art and Design has created an exhibition that reflects those voices.

One of them belongs to Harmony Ellerbe, 14, a seventh-grader at Avery D. Harrington School in West Philadelphia.

Harmony, 14, said her art class had inspired her to write "Violence," a poem about a girl who was raped as a child, who lost her father to gun violence, whose brother was jailed and whose mother was addicted to drugs.

One little girl in a life full of violence, watched her dad get shot, seen her brother go to jail. Living in hell.

And that's just the beginning.

"The poem was about something that was going on with my friend in her life," Harmony said. "I felt bad for her and I was thinking about her.

"In art class we talked about violence, and it just came to me."

She read "Violence" to classmates and other artists at a preview of the exhibition yesterday.

The Traveling Youth Art Exhibition - on display until April 30 at Family Court, on Vine Street near 18th - features art by more than 25 girls and boys, each portraying a vision of community and home.

"Art is a really necessary way of expressing yourself, both positively and negatively," said Rachel Zimmerman, executive director of InLiquid, a nonprofit organization on American Street near Master, North Philadelphia.

The exhibition contains work by students at Edison High School, the Philadelphia Mural Arts Guild, the Harrington School and a program of Moore College of Art. Each visual or poetic artist has experienced the criminal-justice system, spent time in detention or been affected by it.

"I do a lot of social-justice art with my students. It gives students a voice," said Leila Lindo, an art teacher at Harrington on, Baltimore Avenue near 53rd Street.

"I like them to do art about topics that are important to them, and a lot of the time the things that are important to them have to do with social justice and their rights."

Lindo said that Harmony's poem shows how art can be therapeutic. The school's display, "My Neighborhood, My Community and Me," features collages that show boys and girls in their communities.

"It gives students the opportunity to open up and lets them know that they don't have to suppress how they feel and show people their artistic abilities," Harmony said of the exhibition.

The Sheriff's Office is sponsoring the exhibition, to support innovative programs that provide second chances to young people, some of whom have been in detention. InLiquid is putting on the exhibition in partnership with the Juvenile Law Center.

"The vast majority of these young people are from neighborhoods with known gangs, high crime rates and urban blight; they need creative options - including art programs, education and job opportunities," Sheriff Jewell Williams said. "I'd rather see the youth packing pens, paintbrushes, paper, notebooks and computers than packing pistols, shotguns or gang tattoos."

The exhibition can be seen from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will travel regionally after April.


Written by Ashley Kuhn for the Philadelphia Daily News on April 1, 2014.

Oficina del Alguacil en Filadelfia esta en "necesidad grave" para mano de obra adicional

Tribunales nuevos que integran delincuencia juvenil del Primer Distrito Judicial y los casos domesticos que abrirán sus puertas el próximo Junio.

Pero en un presupuesto audiencia hoy ante el Concejo Municipal, el Alguacil Jewell Williams dijo que no tiene los recursos humanos de personal para el edificio - o incluso para cumplir adecuadamente los derechos existentes de su oficina.

Es por eso que él está pidiendo $ 4,1 millones en fondos adicionales para contratar a 100 diputados adicionales, junto con varios miembros del personal de apoyo.

"Si tenemos que desplegar 40 personas a ese edificio, no será suficiente para asegurar que la construcción de la forma en que debe ser", dijo Williams.

"Lo podemos hacer si tenemos que hacerlo, pero va a ser un riesgo. Sólo espero que la víctima de que el riesgo no es un ciudadano de cumplir con su deber cívico o alguien con lo que su nieto a visitar a un padre que tiene un problema en la cancha ".

Dijo que la Oficina del Sheriff ha llegado a un "punto crítico" y está en "una urgente necesidad" de mano de obra adicional.

"Quiero decir que en el expediente si no se contrata a los diputados adicionales, se le abre un tribunal próximo mes de junio con profesionales entrenados", dijo.

Williams señaló que los incidentes más violentos del tribunal - como el reciente tiroteo en New Castle, Delaware - han tenido lugar en los tribunales nacionales, a menudo en relación con los casos de las visitas o la manutención de los hijos.

Esos son los mismos cortes que se encuentran en Philadelphia actualmente integrada por empresas de seguridad privada.

"Tenemos algunos cortes en la línea del frente está el personal de seguridad, no los agentes del alguacil capacitados que van a la escuela en busca de ciertos tipos de armas, ciertos tipos de armas que dispersan proyectiles. Estamos entrenados para eso ".

Williams dijo que los trabajadores de seguridad privada no están sujetos a los mismos programas educativos estandarizados y sesiones de reciclaje como agentes del alguacil.

"No lo recomiendo a la gente que no tienen la capacitación sobre cómo reconocer una bomba - No me gustaría poner a las personas en la corte", dijo.

"Porque si usted no tiene el entrenamiento, usted puede costar la vida de alguien."

Él dijo que su personal "son más entrenado que te puedas imaginar", hasta el punto de que "no podía imaginar pagar a alguien $ 8 la hora de una empresa de seguridad" para hacer el mismo trabajo.

Viaja a entrenar?

El proceso de formación de ayudantes del sheriff es otro tema Williams levantó - el único programa autorizado por el estado se ofrece actualmente a través de la Universidad de Penn State en State College, un viaje de dos a tres horas para la mayoría de Filadelfia.

"Uno de los mayores problemas con tener que es cuando el Sheriff invita a alguien a unirse a la Oficina del Sheriff y el Sheriff les informa que tienen que pasar por 20 semanas para Penn State, muchos declive porque significa 20 semanas lejos de sus familias", dijo.

Dijo que está abogando por un cambio en las leyes, sino que requeriría la acción del Estado.

"Es muy difícil a causa de la estructura de poder republicano en Harrisburg pero estamos trabajando muy duro para ver si podemos tener que la legislación modificada", dijo.

Dire Straits

Williams dijo que también necesita más equipo de la Oficina del Sheriff.

"Tenemos diputados que tienen chalecos antibalas y el reloj no se detiene, se terminará", dijo.

"Cuando usted usa chalecos durante un cierto período de tiempo, el material Kevlar o prueba de balas en el chaleco se debilita por su cuerpo sudor. No han cambiado los chalecos en más de cinco años, por lo que es otro incidente que ocurra. "

Dijo que también le gustaría tener el personal para poder confiscar todos los teléfonos móviles y las cámaras de cada juzgado y devolverlos cuando dejan los visitantes.

"Si tuviera la mano de obra, yo recoger todas las cámaras y cada teléfono que viene dentro de ese palacio de justicia", dijo.

"Pero tengo que elegir entre la protección de la amenaza inmediata o la amenaza de que pueda ocurrir más adelante y tengo que usarla para proteger a los jueces en ese tribunal."

"Por otra parte", añadió, "Esa foto va a otro lugar. Es por eso que necesitamos diputados adicionales ".

Retrasos judiciales

Algunos miembros del Consejo criticaron que los tribunales de Filadelfia no pueden simplemente ser ejecutados de manera eficiente lo suficiente como para utilizar mejor los servicios de Williams.

Williams dijo que los prisioneros son escoltados a la corte una media de cinco veces antes de que realmente ven un juez debido a los retrasos en los procedimientos.

Dijo que la estancia hacia y desde las cárceles por sí sola también es mucho tiempo.

"Hay un retardo de unir a las personas en la mañana en el 95", dijo.

"Si tuviéramos un carril de la carretera dedicada, que podríamos llevar a la gente más rápido hasta el Centro de Justicia Penal y, asimismo, que vuelvan rápidamente a la cárcel por la noche."

Dijo que el sistema judicial está obstruido - y el retraso es sólo va a continuar.

"El problema es que los tribunales están abrumados", dijo.

"Estamos recibiendo más presos todos los días. Los tribunales de menores [son] descolgado. Hay un número creciente de jóvenes siendo arrestados y cuando mira el lado adulto, tenemos más casos de varios demandados que requieren más diputados en el tribunal ".

Minimizó

Williams dijo que la oficina del alguacil a menudo se deja fuera del debate público sobre la seguridad pública, pero juega un papel clave en la protección de jueces, testigos y personal de los tribunales, así como asistir a otras agencias del orden público en sus funciones.

Relató que la Policía de Filadelfia tuvo que solicitar la ayuda de su oficina durante "Flash mob" incidente de la semana pasada en el 15 y de la castaña.

"Somos una parte integral de la aplicación de la ley, pero una gran parte del tiempo tenemos minimizado porque no tenemos la mano de obra que nos merecemos", dijo.

"Permítanme decir que una vez más - que merecen tener más diputados para proteger al público. Gracias a Dios no hemos tenido ningún incidente importante en nuestros tribunales, pero estamos estirada muy fina ".

Dijo que a la luz de las recientes tragedias, es el momento de "prepararse para lo desconocido."

"No puedo decir lo suficiente", dijo.

"La Oficina del Sheriff está en la necesidad desesperada de los diputados. Dios no lo quiera, si tuvimos un incidente grave, no podríamos ayudar a todas las personas que nos quieren ayudar. Y a menos que conseguir esos cuerpos adicionales - Tengo que poner esto en aviso público - que sería un incidente muy desastroso si no tenemos los cuerpos y el personal capacitado ".

Pero en cuanto a elevar las tasas judiciales que pagar por su aumento de personal propuesta, Williams dijo que no es una cosa que está dispuesto a luchar.

"Les puedo decir como un disidente político - no se habla honorarios al Ayuntamiento", dijo. "Voy a ser de apoyo, pero no voy a hacer las recomendaciones."


Escrito por Alex Wigglesworth para el Metro el 17 de abril de 2013.

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