Many Bensalem residents have responded to the recent scrutiny of police officers across the nation by placing lawn signs reading “We Support Bensalem Police Department,” on their properties.
Fifteen-hundred signs have been distributed from the township’s municipal complex over the last week. Driving around the township, it’s evident that the community has responded, with signs planted on almost every block. The township actually ran out of the original supply in less than six hours and had to order more.
“We want to show our support for them,” Mayor Joe DiGirolamo said in a video message to residents. “Our brave men and women are out there protecting us every day. Let’s not forget that.”
The Bensalem Police Department currently employs 100 officers, with a total staff of over 150 people. That places it within the top 10 largest police departments in Pennsylvania.
The support comes on the heels of National Night Out and a forum on police-community relations hosted by DiGirolamo and Public Safety Director Fred Harran on July 20.
That forum, held at Linconia Tabernacle Christian Center, was attended by around 100 people. There was also a community forum and prayer session with Bensalem representatives last week at St. Ephrem’s Church in Bensalem.
The theme of these engagements with community members, Harran said, is how to interact with police officers.
“The general public has no idea what to do when you’re stopped by a police officer, or the police come to your house or a disturbance near your work,” he said. “I think if you look at the incidents around the country, if people just knew how to react, a lot of that could have been avoided.”
For example, if you are stopped in traffic by a police officer at night, he said, it’s important to turn off the radio, don’t be on your phone and light up the interior of your car.
“You sit and you wait for what the officer directs,” Harran said, noting that that includes rolling down your window or reaching for your license and registration. “Don’t do a single thing, wait for instructions.”
Though there are not currently forums scheduled, Harran said the department is open to doing them if community members request more.
“If there’s opportunity, we’ll be there,” he said.
The same goes for the signs, DiGirolamo said, and noted that no taxpayer money was used to to purchase the signs.
“If people want more, we’ll find a way,” DiGirolamo said.