Temple University re-engaging with Philly Police after student murder, despite embrace of “defund” movement

In response to the murder of one of its students, Temple University President Dr. Jason Wingard said in a campus-wide email it will “work with the Philadelphia Police Department to increase their presence off campus,” to boost student security.

The move comes after a year in which Temple administrators and students have debated and occasionally embraced facets of the “Defund the Police” movement, which sprang up in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, an event so shocking it ignited a new, national reckoning on race.

The university is currently working to quell fears after Samuel Collington, a 21-year-old senior at the university, was shot and killed in the middle of the day within blocks of the campus.

“Students are afraid. Parents are afraid. Parents are afraid for students’ safety,” student government president Bradley Smutek told the Inquirer.

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Besides increasing patrols in cooperation with Philadelphia Police, Wingard also promised to “increase our Campus Safety force by 50%” and to “collaborate with city leaders to expand anti-violence initiatives to reduce shootings and homicides in North Philadelphia and across the city.”

Last June, however, the mood at Temple was more about distancing itself from Philadelphia Police.

“In the past, Temple has provided a small amount of support to the Philadelphia Police Foundation through charitable donations,” university president Richard M. Englert said in a brief statement. “Upon review and community input, we have decided that the university will no longer provide this support,” and that the funds would be reallocated “to support social justice programs at the university.”

The Philadelphia Police Foundation is an IRS-recognized nonprofit where funds “go directly toward providing critical equipment, technology, training and innovative programs to help the Philadelphia Police Department improve public safety and enhance service to the city,” according to the foundation’s website.

“Over the past three years, Philadelphia area individuals, businesses and foundations have generously contributed over $2.0 million to underwrite over a dozen of the Department’s most critical, but unbudgeted priorities,” the website adds.

A request for comment to the university on the shift in attitudes toward police was not returned.

Despite the political pressures that emerged from the Floyd killing, the university rebuffed a petition on Change.org from earlier in June 2020, that called for a total severing of all ties between the university and Philly police.

The university rebuffed a petition on Change.org… that called for a total severing of all ties between the university and Philly police.

“Temple University claims that ‘racism within our community is not tolerated,’ but they are willing to fund the very institution that suppresses the message of #BlackLivesMatter in our city,” the petition read. “It is well known that Temple has been actively gentrifying North Philadelphia for decades, and has expanded its police surveillance beyond campus through its ties with Philadelphia Police.”

Wingard was joined by Provost JoAnne A. Epps and Chief Operating Officer Kevin G. Clark in a lengthy statement pushing back on the idea.

“We do not believe that [severing all ties with Philadelphia police] would be in the best interest of Temple students, faculty and staff, and our neighbors in the surrounding community,” they said. 

“Shared responsibilities and patrols among the Temple Police Department, our Allied Universal security partners and the Philadelphia Police Department help keep us safe by providing effective layers of service and protection for the Temple community and residents in nearby neighborhoods.”

The Change.org petition and subsequent rebuff from the University came before the decision to stop making donations to the Philadelphia Police Foundation, but the original petition also highlighted that link.

“It is time to say it loud and clear that we as students, alumni and residents of Philadelphia firmly oppose Temple’s active participation in militarizing our police force. #DefundthePolice”, the petition said.

Meanwhile, police identified 17-year-old Latif Williams as a suspect in Collington’s murder. Williams turned himself in to police Wednesday night.

Court records show that he was charged with five felony counts related to an alleged carjacking in July.

Those charges were later withdrawn.

Police identified 17-year-old Latif Williams as a suspect in Collington’s murder. Williams turned himself in to police Wednesday night.

“[A] key witness for the Commonwealth did not appear in court, forcing our office to withdraw the case at that time. That incident, which took place in August, remains under active investigation, and our office continues to pursue accountability for that crime,” a spokesperson for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office said, according to ABC6.

The university is holding a community hearing at 5 p.m. Thursday to discuss safety issues.

The debate over how to provide the necessary security to the campus comes as Philadelphia crossed the mark of 500 homicides in a year on Thanksgiving. The city had only previously reached that mark one other time since the statistic has been kept since 1960.

On Thursday, the Philadelphia Police crime statistics page showed that the city now counts 512 homicides this year.

Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at tshepherd at broadandliberty.com, or use his encrypted email at shepherdreports at protonmail.com.

7 thoughts on “Temple University re-engaging with Philly Police after student murder, despite embrace of “defund” movement”

  1. Why would anyone go to Temple at this point? Just too dangerous and the administration knows it. Put another way, does anyone in the administration live nearby?
    It is unconscionable they asks parents to send their children to Temple.

    1. These kids have been allowed to pretend they’re not colonizing the hood for years thanks entirely to the power their privilege and those who do ugly things on their behalf gives them.

      They’ve deluded themselves into thinking they’re a part of the community just because they decided to go to Temple. The community has never wanted them there. The only thing stopping people in the community from doing things like this to students and other gentrifiers was the very justice system and law enforcement these unbelievably sheltered kids pretend to hate. Now though, they’ve learned there’s very few consequences for crime these days. Street life and its realities are only gonna continue to creep into Templetown more and more if these kids keep pretending they’re built for real city life.

      1. They’re not colonizing the ‘hood. Temple was there long before the ‘hood was. Violent behavior should never be tolerated in a modern first-world society. People with a history of violent behavior should be physically removed from our society.

        This Latif Williams kid was arrested in May of 2020 for kicking in a police crusier window and spitting on them. This alone should have put him in prison for at LEAST 5 years. Then he gets arrested for car jacking and then again for drug dealing in November 2020. But he was out of jail by Thanksgiving to kill Sam Collington.

        We need to get back to suppressing crime where it exists so the rest of us can live our lives in safety. Disparate behaviors should rightly produce disparate impact, and nobody should feel the need to apologize for that.

        1. Lol no they definitely weren’t there before the hood was. Temple began its colonization in the ’90s. Before that, it was just a small campus surrounded by an urban community.

          You’re exactly the type I’m talking about. Temple has been doing to North Central or whatever you want to call it what Columbia did to Upper Manhattan and Harlem, and not acknowledging it won’t make it any less true or make the community hate you any less.

          You can display your entitled attitude all you like but it won’t change reality. If you move into that area or go to Temple, you’re moving into and helping to colonize the hood. Period. Temple started a war that was only able to be waged thanks to law enforcement and other people who strong-armed the community on its behalf. The community didn’t just suddenly forget because a bunch of rich students decided to virtue signal about BLM and the police.

  2. Lol this is something those of us who actually live by the code knew was gonna happen eventually. It’s really easy to pretend you’re all about not snitching and not cooperating with police when there’s no consequences and you feel sheltered.

    This should be a wake up call for every sheltered “defund/abolish the police” wannabe. You aren’t even remotely built for real city life, and those cops and that campus security is the only thing making your bubble of safety possible.

    You moved into the hood whether you want to admit it or not, and they never wanted you there in the first place. Your presence was made possible by strong-arming the actual community over and over. You will never be seen as anything other than colonizers and walking ATMs because that’s exactly what you are. You have never been and will never be a part of the actual North Philly community.

    Stop pretending to be about things you’ve never been about. There’s real world consequences to it that you’ve been sheltered from your whole life.

  3. The bitter and very grievous reality is that we need strong and well equipped police departments. Why? Because we live in a world where criminals prey upon anyone they see as a target. A man or woman coming home from work. An elderly person waiting for a bus or just going to the grocery store. A student unloading a car. A store owner opening their shop for the day. We need effective police officers to protect the rest of us from the predators in society. Every human being is free to choose between good and evil and lets face it. Murder is an act of evil.

  4. It is terrible that something like the death of Samuel Collington is what takes to get the Temple Community to reengage with the Philadelphia Police Department. Unfortunately, other less prominent people are robbed and murdered in non town and gown neighborhoods this City every day. Few of these innocent victims’ names are ever make the news.

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