A heavy police presence contributed to the relatively quiet weekend. Philadelphia Police Officer Gerald McPhillips spent all night inside the Wawa at 38th and Spruce streets Friday, poised for action on a weekend that has become notorious for bringing mass pandemonium to the store and the entire campus. The convenience store may not have needed his services. The 1998 Penn Relays, a three-day event which was attended by a record 90,000 people, brought with them less crime than a normal weekend on campus --Epleasantly surprising University and Philadelphia police, who have grown accustomed to far more numerous and more serious crimes. Last year, for example, a group of males carjacked a man outside Franklin Field. In 1994, a shooting and stabbing marred Relays weekend. This year, however, only 10 thefts, a burglary and a simple assault were reported to police from Thursday night to Sunday morning. The most serious incident was the discovery of a handgun on the ground near 39th and Sansom streets. Also, Relays weekend came and went without a single robbery. Last year, there were five. The weekend's unusually-calm atmosphere also extended to Wawa. In recent years, food fights and unruly crowds have forced the normally 24-hour store to close temporarily during Relays. This year, for the first time, Wawa management took matters into their own hands, hiring McPhillips, an officer for the Philadelphia Police Department's 18th District, to patrol the store all night. And for the first time in several years, Wawa remained calm, civilized and open the entire weekend. "People just came in, got their sandwiches and left," McPhillips said. "Nothing happened." Moreover, unlike last year, the litter strewn around campus Saturday night had disappeared by Sunday afternoon, thanks to the University City District, which deployed a special cleanup crew so the campus would not remained cluttered until Penn groundskeepers returned to work. Last year, the post-Relays litter plagued the streets through Sunday until Monday morning. As attendance this balmy weekend reached an all-time high, police presence did as well, with the entire University Police force -- nearly 100 officers and detectives -- working overtime shifts during the weekend, as well as a huge presence from Philadelphia Police officers. According to Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush, 77 officers from area police forces -- including the School District of Philadelphia, Highway Patrol and Traffic Control -- patrolled on campus during the weekend, enabling the University to boast a team of officers at every corner. In addition to the security efforts, University Police Det. Commander Tom King attributed the virtually incident-free weekend to the good behavior of those in attendance. "If I was a betting man, I would have lost my house because all the precursors were there for a potentially long night," he added. Lt. Gerard McShea, a supervisor at the 18th District, said he was happy that the weekend was relatively calm on Penn's campus, adding that the district -- which covers most of West Philadelphia below Market Street -- experienced three shootings Sunday and numerous assaults over the weekend elsewhere in West Philadelphia.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.