State Rep. Amen Brown decries vandalism at Historic Shofuso House in Fairmount Park and calls for restoration of police district in Fairmount Park
State Rep. Amen Brown, D-Phila., has called for Mayor Kenney to immediately work with Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw to restore the 90th and 92nd Police Districts in East and West Fairmount Park.
According to Brown, these districts were eliminated as part of a package of severe budget cuts during the financial crisis of 2008 by then-Mayor Michael Nutter, which also included eliminating libraries and recreation centers. Brown said the time has come for these districts to be restored.
"Fairmount Park had dedicated policing and security since the original Park Guard was created in 1868 and consolidated into the Philadelphia Police Department in 1972," Brown said. "These dedicated police patrolled the largest urban park in America and maintained it as an urban oasis for all Philadelphians until severe budget cuts forced the elimination of these Park Police Districts.
“The time has come to restore them,” Brown said.
Brown said that police were consolidated into neighboring high crime districts, including the 16th and 19th in West Philadelphia, and the 22nd, 23rd and 39th in North Philadelphia, which have no officers to spare for park patrols. This has left the park without any police.
"With the elimination of the Park Police Districts, I am not surprised that even after they called to report a $2 million vandalism and burglary, there was no police response,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, the same thing might happen if someone called who was being assaulted in the park."
"This needs to stop now, and the mayor, Council, and police commissioner need to restore the Park Police Districts. I stand prepared to work with my colleagues in Harrisburg to assist with any additional funding to restore these districts or additional staffing,” Brown continued.
Brown also stated that legislative leaders should continue to explore whether to restore the dormant Fairmount Park Commission as the governing body for the park system and assets.
"The General Assembly created the Commission to own and operate the park for the benefit of all residents of the city and commonwealth and it still exists should we choose to re-appoint commissioners to fulfill their duties. The city of Philadelphia has run the park since the commissioners ceased to meet, following a home rule charter change consolidating administrative departments, but legislative action could be taken to call the commission back into session."
Brown said he believes that if the suspects are caught, they should be fully prosecuted, possibly even charged with a hate crime due to the subject of the vandalism being a Japanese museum.