When federal agents carried out a major raid on suspected heroin and cocaine dealers in Chester over the weekend, they had a helpful ally in the action, the Chester Housing Authority (CHA). Although none of the drug activity or arrests took place on CHA property, the agency allowed agents to use its buildings to get excellent vantage points to conduct surveillance.
The buildings are also equipped with outdoor cameras"We take pride in the quality of the homes we have built and manage in Chester, and we take equal pride in the safety of our properties and the residents we serve," said CHA Executive Director Steven Fischer. "CHA sites have become among the safest places in the City, which speaks to how hard we and the people who live at our developments work. Of 24 murders in the City of Chester this year, one occurred on a CHA property. It was deemed accidental, not targeted." The two-year investigation led to the arrest of 35 people connected to the Rose and Upland Drug Trafficking Group. Rose and Upland on Chester's Eastside is not far from high-rise CHA senior buildings on Madison Street. CHA allowed agents to use the rooftops to watch drug activity."When the feds asked to use our buildings for this activity, it was a no-brainer for us," said CHA Police Chief Rodney O'Neill. "We are constantly vigilant at the street level to move people off of the corners. We moved 25,000 people from street corners over the past year. You can't let up if you want to keep our communities safe." CHA has a "one-strike and you're out" policy for drug or other major crimes, a policy Fischer says he believes residents endorse. "We are in constant communication with residents, and safety and security are always at the top of their list of priorities. It's a big reason we continue to urge HUD (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) to allow us to use more of our federal funding for police services. So far our requests have fallen on deaf ears," Fischer said.