The Real Garbage Was The Editorial

Posted: July 17, 1998

In your editorial (June 27), ``Garbage in? You're out!'' you filled eight inches of space with garbage. You portrayed the real Capt. Dan Castro as just another status quo deskbound egomaniac playing with numbers to inflate his own reputation.

We in the West Philadelphia Anti-Crime Partnership have worked closely with the officer you defamed, building a model community/police partnership for this section of the city. One of our members, Herman Wrice of Mantua Against Drugs, began a similar process in the late 1980s. His white hat movement helped organize 28 Philadelphia neighborhoods in a desperate grassroots effort to shut down drug corners, control crime and save kids. Today this same process, strengthened and enhanced by community activists and law enforcement leaders at over 200 sites, is known as Turn Around America.

Months after taking command in the 16th District, Capt. Castro became actively invested in this program. Through his efforts, the University City Special District agreed to become an active member of the current coalition.

In February, the partnership established a six-month action plan. The first community cleanup and anti-crime rally targeted a four-block area at 39th and Fairmount. Month after month the WPACP has moved on high-crime areas targeted by both community members and police statistics. During all cleanup operations and rallies, Capt. Castro and his law enforcement team delivered an unmistakable message to all suspected drug houses and/or speakeasies that illegal activities would not be tolerated.

The results have been impressive. Council members Jannie Blackwell and Mike Nutter, DA Lynne Abraham and Len Ward from the Bureau of Narcotics can attest to these rallies' positive impact. Community members were energized and empowered. Information provided to 16th District police is accurate and consistent. Children from the areas impacted happily volunteer to paint over graffiti and fill L&I-supplied dumpsters with years of trash. The feeling of hope is almost tangible.

Police Commissioner John F. Timoney: Trust your instincts. Give Capt. Dan Castro a fair hearing. Don't be distracted by Philadelphia's backroom agendas. Not everybody here is invested in community policing. Take another look at Capt. Castro; you will find you have a lot in common. Both of you hate politics. Both of you like fighting crime out on the streets, side by side with true community leaders, up close and personal.

Glenn A. McCurdy is senior consultant to Turn Around America and Mantua Against Drugs.

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