Chester: A city at the breaking point

Last week, hours after a violent home invasion in a normally quiet Chester neighborhood, law enforcement authorities swept into the city and arrested two men for .... selling knockoff designer merchandise.

This at a time when many in the city are begging for help in dealing with what is fast becoming a daily occurrence - random gunfire that is keeping many residents prisoners in their homes.

"Are you kidding me?" one city resident complained in a phone call. "This is what they are concentrating on?" It's a legitimate point.

This week things came to a head.

Hundreds of people packed a City Council meeting Wednesday night to complaint about violence on city streets, and their lack of faith that city officials - and a troubled police department - are capable of doing anything about it.

In addition to the gunfire that some now say is a routine part of Chester life, they are upset at a recent incident in which a city police officer was seen on videotape punching a woman he was taking into custody, as well as the recently announced probe by the D.A.'s office into the troubles in the police evidence room, including a scope to a rifle that had gone missing for a time. Right up until it became known that questions were being asked, when it suddenly reappeared.

The echoes from those concerned voices at the council meeting had barely drifted off when a familiar sound rang out again on city streets. A 22-year-old man drove for a block before getting out of his vehicle, then collapsing on the campus of Widener University. He was pronouced dead at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

A man was shot and killed - at 11 a.m. - as he drove his Dodge Durango in the Sun Village section of the city.

A few hours later, more gunshots, this time in the West End, critically wounding a 21-year-odl man.

I've been told by any number of residents that the streets are not nearly as safe as Mayor John Linder and Police Commissioner Joe Bail insist.

They also don't know why city officials are so reluctant to ask for help in restoring order on city streets, either from the D.A. or state.

What they do know is this: It's not going to make city streets a whole lot safer by arresting people for selling counterfeit goods.

Here's our editorial on the situation.

The city needs an answer. It needs to bring the gunfire to a halt. And it needs to happen soon.


Jen Glass said…
Police have to start somewhere. The little things also have to be taken care of. I live in NJ, in a town where you can't even throw a cigarette butt out of the car ! We have very little crime, there is order. I drive over the bridge and it's the wild wild west ! People drive like crazy animals, litter everywhere ! It's very sad, but don't blame the cops !
Anonymous said…
Absolutely blame the police for not prioritizing what needs to be done. The Delaware county police obviously thought this was something to look into when they raided the Chester police department. There's more than just poor planning and strategizing going on in Chester.