Blog by Elena Iwata
“We need the community just as the community needs us” says Lieutenant Marc Hayes of the Philadelphia Police Department. Hayes works within Police Service Area 3 of the 24th Police District.
Police Service Areas (PSAs) are part of neighborhood policing, a strategy that focuses on community engagement and increasing the quality of life for all Philadelphians. The area that forms a PSA is based off of the city’s 21 police districts. Each of these districts is then broken up into two to four smaller geographical subdivisions, the PSAs.
Hayes himself is a native Philadelphian and a 15-year veteran of the force. He’s now worked with his Police Service Area, PSA 3 in Port Richmond, for several years.
“Through working the PSA, I learned a lot about Port Richmond,” Hayes explains. “You learn the culture and you learn the traditions of the people that live there. A lot of people bought their parents’ homes, so it’s three generations of people living in the community. People value so much of their heritage and their culture, and they stand up for their neighborhood. It’s a mutual respect.”
Following the PSA structure, instead of going across the district call-to-call, officers are dispatched mostly to 911 calls within their assigned PSAs.
They have more time to patrol their PSA, talking to business owners and neighbors — and developing relationships in the neighborhood.
PSA neighborhood meetings are particularly helpful at building relationships between our police officers and the communities they serve.
“People can come out and speak to me directly and other officers that serve the PSAs,” Hayes says. “We’re networking and communicating. That’s how you get to know people.”
The meetings are friendly, informative, and informal. Residents have an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about anything affecting the neighborhood, like graffiti, crime, nuisance bars, or even potholes.
“Get to know who your PSA providers are,” Hayes suggests, “your lieutenants, your sergeants. They’re accountable for the area around your neighborhood. The more you know about these officers, the more they’ll know about you!”
Resources like PSAs help to strengthen Philadelphia’s neighborhoods because, together, neighbors and police can share resources and knowledge.
“And with that knowledge,” Hayes says, “our goal is to improve quality of life for everyone.”
Ready to engage with your neighborhood’s Police Service Area? Here are three ways you can get involved!
- Find your Police District and Police Service Area! Just enter your address, and you will be lead to an interactive map showing your police district, your PSA, contact information for your PSA’s lieutenant, and a link to your district’s homepage.
- Attend your local PSA meeting! They are held once a month, and schedules are often posted on each district’s website.
- Contact your PSA lieutenant — and start a conversation!