Members of the 12th Police District in Southwest Philadelphia held a special Valentine’s Day for officers to show appreciation for the work they do in serving and protecting the community.
The annual Valentine’s Appreciation Day was held on Friday at the district located 65th and Woodland Avenue.
Officers on each shift were given opportunity to win door prizes and enjoy food and refreshments in a show of gratitude for their work.
Officer Joe Young is the community relations officer for the 12th district. He said the event has taken place every year for over two decades.
“It’s usually put on by our Police District Advisory Council and they are just showing their appreciation for the officers,” Young said.
During the event, the 12th police district is turned into a veritable banquet hall, complete with Valentine’s Day decorations and a banquet like arrangement where the officers get to sit, and have the opportunity to be served before they continue serving the community.
“It’s all about having a fellowship with each other,” Young said.
Young, who has 27 years on the force, said he recalled the Valentine’s Day Appreciation event even during his days as a rookie.
“They [the officers] look forward to it,” he said. “They know that on or around Valentine’s Day we always have the event and so they expect it and enjoy it also.”
Young and the other officers of the 12 Police District have become noted for their interaction with members of the community and for them, showing their appreciation to both the community and their fellow officers is nothing new.
“It’s important that we engage with the community because we want them on our side,” Young said. “We don’t want to be their enemy or for them to think of us as enemies. They are like family to us, we see them all of the time and speak with them and we want to keep it like that.”
The district is also a place where they can hold meetings and discuss community issues.
“We always have our community meetings the second Wednesday of each month where the community comes in and we have speakers and again have fellowship.”
Young said some 90 people attended last week’s monthly community meeting, despite the cold and snow, which hit some areas of Philadelphia.
Young said he has seen significant changes during his two decades at the 12th district. There were not only changes in the population’s ethnicity but also in the nature of the crime in the area.
“Certain areas have changed drastically,” he said. “When I came the crack era was just beginning, a lot of things we don’t have as much.”
He credits the community for much of the progress.
“People say that the community doesn’t talk but the community will let you know what’s going on,” he said. “They don’t always want to be recognized for doing so but they will let us know what’s going on through phone calls, e-mails and things like that and that helps us out quite a bit.”
Before, the monthly community meetings held at the district had only 5 or 6 people attending, according to Young. Today, these meetings have close to 200 people.
“They know we are here for them and we would like to continue this relationship with them,” he said.