March 14, 2002 |
It has been a few years since I visited the wood-paneled office suite of Philadelphia's police commissioner in the department's circular headquarters, nicknamed the "roundhouse," at Eighth and Race Streets. On Tuesday I was there to interview Sylvester Johnson, the acting police commissioner, appointed by Mayor Street in January after John F. Timoney quit to go into the private sector. The first time I entered the office, the year was 1968. I was a police reporter and the commissioner was the Frank L. Rizzo, a legend in his own time.
April 10, 1998 |
It was Feb. 1, 1972, very cold. Sylvester Johnson was shopping with his 6-year-old son in a crowded supermarket in West Oak Lane. Suddenly, two holdup men appeared at the cash register. A third guarded the door with a high-powered rifle. Johnson - then 28, an off-duty Philadelphia police corporal - pushed his son to the floor behind a counter, pulled his service revolver, and confronted the robbers. Shooting broke out. When it was over, the two stickup men were wounded and under arrest.
April 4, 2002
MAYOR STREET: Why haven't you named Sylvester Johnson police commissioner yet? At this point, the wait is getting embarrassing - frankly, for you. When this board asked why you haven't named Johnson yet, even though he is wildly popular, is doing a good job and is the only candidate for the job, you gave no rational explanation. As a result, your inaction has left you open to criticism that you can't reach a decision. If there's a good reason, you should offer it. Either that, or offer Johnson, who has waited three months, the job he clearly deserves.
July 11, 2004 |
Rennison Payne wants a word with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson. "Sylvester Johnson, I have no disrespect for you, sir," Payne said yesterday at a small demonstration outside the police department's 39th District office. "But I'm asking you, sir, to put your foot in my shoe. " Payne was among about three dozen people who gathered to protest the death of Payne's son Haile, who was killed in a police shoot-out June 10. The 24-year-old had managed - while reportedly handcuffed behind his back - to shoot at and wound an officer before he was fired upon 28 times.
July 9, 2007
VERY INTERESTING piece by Simone Weichselbaum about the life and career of Philly's top cop Sylvester Johnson, who is knocking on retirement's door in 2008. The house he speaks about of 4,200 square feet in Bear, Del., that he shares with his wife must really be something. I was always under the impression that employees of the police and fire departments had to reside in the city limits. Although the article goes on to say that Mr. Johnson stays in an apartment in Essington during the week, the last time I checked, I thought Essington was in Delaware County, not Philadelphia.
December 5, 2007
I'VE spent 40-plus years working with our gifted police department to save our youth at risk. Your officers are heroes who accept the role of protecting society, Commissioner Ramsey. They are absolutely the finest police officers in this nation - yes, even better than Chicago's and Washington's. I'm proud to be affiliated with heroic commanders, detectives, sergeants, special units and patrol officers. Chief Ramsey, before you rush into changes, take the time to assess the gifted officers you inherit from Sylvester Johnson on Jan. 7. Please give these noble guardians of our social fabric the same respect that Commissioner Johnson has for them.
October 23, 2007
Thank goodness the pace of homicides in Philadelphia finally seems to be slowing. Over the weekend, the city actually fell behind the number of homicides at this this time last year (through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, there were 324 compared with 326 for the same period in 2006). Maybe tempers have moderated with the temperature. Whatever the reasons, pray this trend continues, because the homicide rate is still far too high. Here's hoping, too, that the thousands of black men who volunteered Sunday to help make communities safe can make an effective complement to the police.
January 6, 2010 |
A FORMER police captain who supervised narcotics officers now at the center of an FBI-led corruption investigation has landed a top job at the District Attorney's Office. In his first news conference as D.A., Seth Williams yesterday named Christopher M. Werner as his chief of county detectives, a move widely viewed as a step up for the 21-year police veteran. While many in law enforcement praise Werner for his dogged work ethic and aggressive policing, Werner's record suffered a blemish last year, when the Daily News series "Tainted Justice" detailed allegations that a group of narcotics officers under his command engaged in criminal misconduct.
February 3, 1999 |
By his presence this frigid Saturday night outside a West Oak Lane gas station, Sylvester Johnson, the number-two cop in the Philadelphia Police Department, delivered a simple message: Practice what you preach. Johnson, the deputy commissioner for operations, joined hands with 14 men and women to form a prayer circle. The assembly gathered in the parking lot of the Amoco at Ogontz Avenue and Middleton Street to show support for the business, the target of threats and harassment from local drug dealers.
September 6, 2006
RE DAWN Thomas' letter "Mayor should look in mirror" (Aug. 31): Everyone in this city should be angry about the social conditions here, but make sure the correct people receive the anger. I was a teacher for a year at a city charter school, and I saw firsthand how the violence and drugs manifested themselves. When I saw parents (or rather did not see parents) show up for report-card night, was that John Street's responsibility? How about when students would come to school with dirty clothes and hair not groomed - was that John Street's fault?