PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Upper Darby Police Chief Michael Chitwood reviewed the Papal Visit to the World Meeting of Families, agreeing that security may have been too tight and restrictive, as well as suggesting that the World Meeting of Families should assume some of the cost associated with the event.
Chitwood told Dom Giordano that the Papal Visit was a wonderful weekend but the bill for the additional resources and security should not fall on Upper Darby.
“I think it ought to go to the World Meeting of Families. That’s who it should go to really. They’re the ones that sponsored it. It was a great event. I, personally, stood at the 69th Street Terminal, and Sunday night, when people were coming home and other than being tired, everybody had a smile on their face and everybody was so glad that they went down there. It was really, really nice to see.”
He said restrictive security is the number one issue he received from residents coming home after seeing the Pope.
“That’s the complaint I heard over and over again from people coming back from the event. I never left Upper Darby. I was in Upper Darby the whole two days, but that was the complaint I heard over and over again, especially Sunday. Just from a policing perspective, not a political perspective, there were a lot of people involved to protect people. I may have thought it was overkill. I may have thought we had too many people involved in it, but, initially, that was the direction we were going and I think it turned a lot of people off.”
Chitwood stated that they based their estimates and dedicated resources in response to what they heard from SEPTA, which then led to stricter security and less freedom of movement.
“A lot of what we did was driven by SEPTA. SEPTA was introducing, initially, these huge numbers of people who were going to be coming through the system…We had several meetings at the county level, we had several meetings at the local level, meaning Upper Darby Township. Initially, the numbers that they were putting out there were huge and there was no way that anybody wanted to see anybody, first, get hurt, that was the priority, make sure everybody was safe. Secondly, how do you manage this? Well, you make it a drop off event. Initially, we had two locations. We had the Primos train station and we had 69th Street. 69th Street, obviously, being the biggest venue and we were making it totally a drop off point, so no vehicles could get to the train station.”