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The Kensington Transit Corridor Overdose Response Study

This presentation is currently scheduled for Mol3 (Day 1, Monday 22 March at 1:30 PM – 2:50 PM EST)


In 2019, 1,150 people died from drug overdoses in Philadelphia, up 200% over a decade. Eighty percent (80%) of these deaths involved opioids. The crisis is concentrated in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, which has emerged as ground zero for the worst urban opioid crisis in the country. One of Philadelphia’s two main subway lines runs directly through Kensington, and these trends have placed significant pressure on the transit police. The Kensington Transit Corridor Overdose Response Study was designed by the region’s transit police (SEPTA Police Department) to improve police responses to opioid overdoses in one of the most concentrated overdose hotspots on the US eastern seaboard. A dedicated vehicle (OSCAR ONE) and officer have been assigned to respond to overdoses on the transit system, and now officers are paired with social workers from a local agency. Temple University researchers have been evaluating the project with over 300 hours of field work and observations. Using unique video footage, interviews and quotes from the area’s police officers, this presentation explores the implementation challenges based on the dynamic environment of the city and policing. It also offers insights into the officers’ perspectives on the opioid crisis in the largest drug market on the eastern seaboard of the United States. The two lead researchers and the SEPTA Police Chief will be available for questions during the video (on chat) and afterwards.



Jerry Ratcliffe, Temple University (USA)


Jerry Ratcliffe, Temple University (USA)

Thomas Nestel III, SEPTA Police chief (USA)

Hayley Wight, Temple University (USA)


Jerry Ratcliffe:

Jerry Ratcliffe is a former British police officer, college professor, and host of the Reducing Crime podcast. He works with police agencies around the world on crime reduction and evidence-based policing. After an ice-climbing accident ended a decade-long career with London’s Metropolitan Police, he earned a first class honors degree and a PhD from the University of Nottingham. He has published over 100 research articles and nine books, including most recently “Reducing Crime: A Companion for Police Leaders”. Ratcliffe has been a research adviser to the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, an instructor for the ATF intelligence academy, and he is a charter member of the FBI Law Enforcement Education and Training Council. He is a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA (Twitter: @jerry_ratcliffe)


Hayley Wight:

Hayley Wight is a PhD student in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hayley holds a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice from Temple University and BAs in Criminal Justice and Psychology. While completing her undergraduate and graduate studies, Hayley has been involved in a variety of qualitative and quantitative research projects on topics including prisoner reentry and reintegration, body-worn cameras and police technology, and the role of police in the drug-crime nexus. Currently, Hayley is the Graduate Researcher on the Kensington Transit Corridor Overdose Response Study with SEPTA Transit Police.


Tom Nestel:

Thomas J. Nestel III started as a Patrol Officer with the SEPTA transit police in 1982, and then served with the Philadelphia Police Department for 22 years. He reached the rank of Staff Inspector, before becoming Chief of Police for Upper Moreland Township, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He has a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and has earned three Master’s degrees – Criminology from University of Pennsylvania, National Security Studies from the United States Naval Postgraduate School, and Public Safety from St. Joseph’s University. Nestel has conducted extensive research on the use of public domain surveillance systems (CCTV) and assisted in the authoring of the operating policy to guide Philadelphia’s program. He has also conducted several studies to determine the effectiveness of red light camera systems on intersection safety.  In 2012 he returned to the SEPTA Transit Police Department as chief. You can follow chief Nestel on twitter @TNestel3




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