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Temple University Police Department receives $1.7M grant following officer’s death

Funds will help the department with technology and records upgrades, as well as support recruitment, retention and training


Photo/David Maialetti via TNS

By Susan Snyder
The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — After the shooting death of a Temple officer while on duty, the university has received a $1.7 million state grant to support its police department, State Sen. Vincent Hughes announced Wednesday.

“How can we honor the life of such a positive role model and take steps to prevent this kind of tragedy from ever happening again?” Hughes (D., Philadelphia/Montgomery) said in a news release. “We can put the guns down, we can invest in our communities and our young people, and we can make sure more resources, like this grant, make their way to the Temple University Police Department so that its officers are equipped with what they need to stay safe while protecting and serving the Temple community.”

Christopher Fitzgerald, who was posthumously promoted to sergeant, was shot to death on Feb. 19. Eighteen-year-old Miles Pfeffer of Bucks County has been charged with his killing.

[EARLIER: Slain Pa. university police officer ‘cared about the community more than himself’]

Temple already had been amid a reorganization of the department under Jennifer Griffin, who became vice president of public safety six months ago. The university has faced criticism and questions about what more it can do to keep students safe after Fitzgerald’s death.

“This investment in Temple University Public Safety will impact and benefit the entire agency, the university, and the north Philadelphia community,” Griffin said. “I’m looking forward to working with our team to utilize these funds to make both short-term and long-term improvements and investments.”

The grant came through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

The funding, Hughes said, will go toward the police department’s gunshot detection and license-plate reader technology, records and reporting system upgrades, and closed-circuit cameras.

It also will help fund retention and recruitment bonuses and training in crisis intervention, de-escalation, and rape aggression defense instruction, Hughes said.

With a national shortage of officers, Temple has struggled to hire more police. After student Samuel Collington was shot to death outside his off-campus apartment in November 2021, university president Jason Wingard vowed to increase the police force by 50%.

But in January, the department had 72 officers, fewer than it had in the weeks after Collington’s death.

The university also under a new agreement this month resumed hiring Philadelphia police officers on overtime to patrol hot-spot areas around campus.

And Griffin said last week that as part of the reorganization, she would make more than a dozen “strategic and tactical leadership” hires, including a director of messaging and communication, deputy director of organizational affairs, and director/captain of tactics and professional development.

Wingard called the grant “impactful, timely, and catalyzing as Temple focuses on stronger, more advanced initiatives.

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