I visited the old Defense Department depot commonly called the "Quartermaster" in South Philadelphia yesterday.
As a South Philadelphia neighbor of the compound, as well as a former employee there, I recall vividly when the Quartermaster - an 11-square block compound composed of buff-colored buildings centered by a tall clock tower - was a local South Philly mainstay and major employer.
Having worked at the Quartermaster for more than 25 years, it was both a sad and uplifting day.
It was sad, as the old depot looked like a dilapidated ghost town. I recall when thousands of Defense Department civilian employees and military personnel worked here in support of the armed forces stationed around the world.
I also recall the very active social life we had at the Quartermaster. There were celebratory luncheons, fabulous Christmas parties, picnics, and drinking and dancing at the Officer's Club after working hours. The Quartermaster also had a bowling league, a dart league, a men's softball league, and a mixed men and women softball league.
I thought of all of the good times as I walked past the abandoned, lifeless buildings.
But my visit was also uplifting, as I ventured to the compound to visit the newly established Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (DVIC). I was pleased to see the beginnings of new life and purpose on the old compound.
On assignment for Counterterrorism magazine, I visited the fusion center to interview Philadelphia Police Inspector Walt Smith, the executive director of the DVIC.
According to the DVIC, the facility was established to house all of the region's assets together for counterterrorism, crime and natural disasters. The DVIC is an all-hazards, all-crime, information and intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination facility.
The DVIC's mission is to support and enhance public safety in the four-state Delaware Valley Region that includes 13 counties across Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, Northern Delaware and Northern Maryland. The DVIC uses a Situational Awareness Portal that contains integration with incident management systems, automatic analysis tools, GIS mapping and visualization capabilities, data mining and advanced data analytics software, and deconfliction capabilities.
Inspector Smith led me on a tour of the center, along with the commanding officer of the Real Time Crime Center, Philadelphia Police Captain Derek Kephart, and Sgt Jay Bowen.
After the tour, Inspector Smith gathered a small group of people who work at the DVIC into a conference room, where I was able to ask questions about the operation.
Inspector Smith gave an overview of the DVIC and Captain Kephart and Sgt Bowen explained how the Real Time Crime Center operated. I also interviewed Philadelphia Police Captain Raymond Evers, the commanding officer of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, about organized crime, gangs and human trafficking.
Also sitting in was Detective Grover Linaweaver from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Police Department and transportation analyst Bob Giorgio. The two spoke of the threats to regional transportation and how they worked within the DVIC.
I'll post my piece about the DVIC here when it is published in Counterterrorism magazine.
You can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the planning of the DVIC via the below link: