Cops in Kensington

A group of Philadelphia police cadets, touring drug torn Kensington, gather at a vacant lot on East Lippincott Street where their instructors show them signs that heroin is being used there. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Captains Stephen Clark and Javier Rodriguez led a procession of about 40 fresh-faced young men and women in crisp light-blue shirts down Kensington Avenue. Their charges wore caps emblazoned with “387,” the number assigned to the class of 75 recruits who will graduate March 1 from the Philadelphia Police Academy.

But before they graduated, the recruits would complete this rite of passage: walking the streets of a Philadelphia neighborhood to get a closer look at conditions in the city they will be sworn to protect. Police leaders brought this class to Kensington, the epicenter of the city’s opioid crisis, and an area receiving renewed attention since Mayor Jim Kenney’s declaration of an emergency there last fall.

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