by Sue Ann Rybak
Capt. Sekou Kinebrew, a 19-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, has come full circle.
As the new head of the 14th Police District, which covers Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy and parts of Germantown and West Oak Lane, he will be responsible for policing the area near Burbridge Street and West Washington Lane, the Germantown neighborhood where he grew up.
Kinebrew, 42, recently replaced Captain John Fleming, who is now commanding officer of the Highway Patrol Unit, a special unit of the police department that coordinates safety for major city events, such as the upcoming visit by Pope Francis and the Democratic National Convention.
“I was very fortunate that I succeeded Capt. Jack Fleming,” Kinebrew said. “He put a lot of great things in place. He was very attentive and proactive. If I can successfully emulate Capt. Fleming’s things, I will consider myself a success.”
He said that because the 14th District is one of the most diverse socioeconomically and geographically, it requires a captain who can think outside the box – a trait he said John Fleming used daily. He added that he hoped to continue to strengthen community relationships.
Kinebrew said he became a police officer because he hated bullies.
“I absolutely detest bullies – both physical and emotional,” he said. “The guy who threatens to take your money, regardless of whether he beats you up or not, is still a bully.”
Kinebrew recalled being a 10-year-old boy waiting to catch the subway home from Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia.
“I was lucky I never got beat up or anything like that,” he said, “but I remember the stress and anxiety of knowing that you better get down to that subway at Broad and Spring Garden before the high school students did.
“You could always tell the Masterman kids,” he said smiling. “We were the ones with books.”
“I used to hold my keys between my fingers like this,” Kinebrew said, as he demonstrated how he held his keys between his fingers like brass knuckles. “I remember when I got my first job at 14. I worked at a doctor’s office at Chew and Price Street. I saved up to buy a monthly SEPTA rail pass so that I wouldn’t have to take the subway anymore.”
But he added it wasn’t until his junior year at La Salle University that he received his “calling.” After three years of studying the principles and theories of natural science and the concepts and logic of mathematics, Kinebrew, who was an economics major, decided he wanted a career in law enforcement.
“My goal was to pursue Federal law enforcement,” he said.
He added that he decided not to change his major because of financial reasons and a desire to graduate in four years.
“And dropping out of college to become a cop wasn’t an option,” said Kinebrew, whose mother is a retired college professor.
He said not being able to speak a second language and lacking any experience or knowledge of law enforcement put him behind the curve. So in January 1996 he decided to join the Philadelphia Police Department to gain some law enforcement experience. But, he quickly added, that after making detective in 1998, he knew he was there to stay.
Prior to being appointed captain of the 14th District, he was a lieutenant in the 17th District, and also served as Police Department Advocate for internal discipline.
In his 19 years on the police force he has worked as a police officer in the 24th District, a detective in the Northwest Detectives Division, a sergeant in the 14th District, as well as at the Police Academy.
Kinebrew said he loves standing up for justice and truth.
“I love being on the team that stands between innocent people and people who want to victimize them,” he said. “So, no matter where my rank or position in the department has gotten me, that’s the team I am still on.”
Kinebrew invites the public to attend a captain’s meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at the 14th District headquarters, 43 West Haines St., in Germantown. For more information call 215-686-3140.