17th Police District Advisory Council seeks volunteers

The 25-year-old organization is looking for a younger generation to contribute to its committees.

For the last quarter-century, the 17th Police District Advisory Council has been building bridges between officers and the South Philly community.

Today, the council is seeking volunteers for its committees, including the beautification and blue ribbon groups, to continue its more than two decades of work around Point Breeze, Grays Ferry and the Graduate Hospital area.

“It was started to build relations with the officers and the community” said Carmetta Dickerson, chairperson of the council. “…The community would identify areas that were in need of services and also to strengthen that relationship.”

On a routine basis, the council organizes bonding opportunities throughout the year, including Wednesday water ice with cops, bookbags drives, haircut oppoortunites, Christmas presents, career days in schools and the “Start Conversation, Not Confrontation” program that fosters dialogue between police and the youth.

“(The police and the youth) don’t realize how much they have in common,” Dickerson said.

Although individuals must be vetted onto the council, the process is not required to volunteer on the the five committees — each of which focuses on a respective improvement in the region.

“As different as the neighborhoods are, there’s diversity in the needs,” Dickerson said.

While the the beautification committee is working on renovating a tot lot and recreation center in Grays Ferry, the blue ribbon plans monthly luncheons for district officers being honored by the department.

Along with the tot lot, the beautification team is also partnering with the Mural Arts program to restore the public art displayed on the 17th district’s station.

However, as Dickerson explains, several members of these committees are senior citizens, so the council is seeking younger people to take over the work, as they would contribute new perspectives more tailored toward today’s day and age.

“The need is so that we will be able to incorporate some young people with young ideas, as well as older people who have lived in the neighborhood. . . . We may have had hands, but now we just have minds, so we need hand and feet,” she said. “We can embrace the new and don’t forget the old — then we’re in a better place to serve each other, and that’s the crux of it.”

Along with younger individuals, the council strives to recruit folks from all three PSAs, each encompassing Point Breeze, Grays Ferry or the Graduate Hospital area, to more accurately represent residents of the 17th Police District.

However, Dickerson notes committee members should expect to engage with neighbors outside of their PSAs, which aims to satisfy another objective of the council.

“It’s about building bonds,” she said. “Not just with police but with neighbors … it’s one more way of getting some answers and being part of solutions.”

For folks interested in joining the 17th Police District Advisory Council’s beautification, blue ribbon, fundraising, youth or events committees, please contact Dickerson at Carmetta.L.Dickerson@phila.gov or John O’Conner at john.oconnor@phila.gov.