Police step up fight against flash mobs
CENTER CITY - March 8, 2010 (WPVI) -- At the direction of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, a new security detail made up of several law enforcement agencies began patrolling areas of Center City and the subways to combat flash mobs, violence and property damage.
In marked and unmarked vehicles, on foot and on bike patrols, an increased police presence was visible virtually everywhere on Market Street in and around The Gallery. But it wasn't just Philadelphia police. SEPTA Transit and Philadelphia School District police were also part of the effort.
"One of the things we did was coordinate with other local law enforcement agencies, SEPTA, as well as other Center City agencies down there. Collaborated, got our forces together so that we can stave off any potential conflicts that will come down," explained Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross.
The development comes in the wake of a rash of flash mob incidents in the city, the latest just last week. Police said the so-called mob of about 50 to 100 teenagers from 10 area schools converged in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street where a fistfight broke out. Then the crowd began running towards The Gallery, but never made it there because police moved in quickly. Twenty-three people were arrested and charged with felony rioting, disorderly conduct and harassment. One was also charged with assault on an officer.
"People need to know that, there are some folks who are going to be dealing with some serious consequences," said Ross.
Last month about 150 teens from eight area high schools converged at The Gallery and started a rampage, in which a 14-year-old was beaten and had to be hospitalized.
Back in May, more than 100 people converged on South Street and attacked and damaged several taxis as well as ransacked a convenience store.
Police believe the events are organized through social web sites and cell phone text messages but they warned that they will take a zero tolerance posture on this type of behavior.
"We want people to come to Center City to shop, enjoy yourself, but please understand that the Police department in conjunction with the courts will take serious action against these types of illegal behavior."
So far, almost 50 people have been arrested in the rash of incidents. The juveniles arrested last week are to appear before a family court judge on Thursday.
philadelphia, pennsylvania, flash mob, police, crime, dann cuellar
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