Temple U. prez Wingard bikes thru North Philly to talk safety, cooperation with local residents

Temple officials set off on mountain bikes to engage with their neighbors about collaboration and partnership

By: - April 7, 2022 9:44 am
Milton Pollard (L) and Sandra White talk to Temple University President Jason Wingard during his bicycle ride through North Philadelphia

Milton Pollard (L) and Sandra White talk to Temple University President Jason Wingard during his bicycle ride through North Philadelphia (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

By Brian Saunders

Temple University President Jason Wingard, Senior Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer Ken Kaiser, along with Temple Police, hopped on bikes and began to ride off campus into North Philadelphia.

Temple officials set off on mountain bikes to engage with its North Philly neighbors about collaboration and partnership.

“Today, we’re going to ride our bikes around with the safety community here at Temple University with our faculty, some of our parents, some of our students, and hear from our community,” Wingard said. “We want to learn how we can be better neighbors? How can we be better partners? How can we collaborate more in this community that we share?”

As Philadelphia continues to deal with the gun violence problem that has resulted in over 1,200 homicides since Jan. 2020, Temple is working with Mayor Jim Kenney, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, and community members to help address safety concerns.

In November, Samuel Collington, a senior at Temple, was shot and killed in an adjacent North Philadelphia neighborhood to the university’s campus.

“There is a national pandemic of violence that’s happening across this country. Philadelphia is not immune to that. The area around Temple University is not immune to that,” Wingard said. “So, of course, we are seeing an increase in violence all across this country. And we see it as our responsibility and our purpose here at Temple University to make sure we are doing our part to make sure that the campus is safe and to make sure that the community around campus is safe.”

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Kaiser said that Temple has a grant program to provide up to $2,500 that can be used for installing either lighting or cameras to improve security. Landlords can apply for these grants and would be reimbursed with proof of installation.

The university has also invested in more police patrolling the campus.

In a letter sent to the Temple community, Kaiser said, “The university has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to ensure patrols meet or exceed all historic norms. In addition, through the new officers that have been hired and the increased Philadelphia Police Department supplemental patrols, the university has more than doubled the number of officers actively patrolling the patrol zone at any given time.”

Temple has also begun discussions of a community-collaborated neighborhood watch program.

Wingard and other Temple University officials made one of the stops on their bicycle tour the 1800 block of Bouvier Street at the North Central Special Services District (NCSSD) garden.

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According to the NCSSD website, the organization serves to “build a coalition of business, resident and organizational partners to collaboratively enhance the quality of life for North Philadelphia residents who live adjacent to Temple University.”

Sandra White, a block captain in that neighborhood, said that Temple and North Philadelphia residents could use an impact group to discuss each other’s concerns.

White hopes that Wingard, who became Temple’s president in September of 2021, can help forge a more substantial relationship within the community than his predecessors did.

“He (Wingard) hasn’t been there that long, so I don’t want to comment on what he has done, but I’m going to believe in what he is going to do,” White said.

White said Temple Police Captain Eileen Bradley was a pillar of the community, but besides that, North Philly residents had an estranged relationship with the university.

 “I’m looking forward to this new hierarchy that’s there,” White said.

Brian Saunders is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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