“Ok, do a radio check,” said Paul Costello, president of the Tacony Town Watch, to Sharon Weiseman, his partner for the night. Weiseman is the secretary of the Tacony Town Watch; she responds and the pair start the patrol for the night.
Two other cars are patrolling the streets of Tacony and Holmesburg with Costello tonight. They need to be in constant contact with each other and with the base operator who is stationed at a house instead of on the streets. The base operator will record everything the members of the town watch call in and will call the police if there is suspicious activity.
Weiseman checks in with the other members on the street and the base operator to make sure all radios are working. Then the patrol begins.
The sounds of static followed by a town watch member’s voice clearing different sections of the neighborhood echo through the car during the night.
For three to four hours every Friday and Saturday night, the town watch members patrol the streets of Tacony and Holmesburg.
“It’s basically driving up and down the streets,” Costello said.
Costello has been a part of the Tacony Town Watch for three years, he recently became president of the organization, which works with Holmesburg/Upper Mayfair Town Watch.
“The town watch is a community policing the streets and trouble spots in the neighborhood,” Costello said. “We point out problems, get the police there as quickly as we can and try to make the community a safer place.”
Costello said the town watch tries to be inconspicuous while driving around. They keep an eye out for the little things that seem slightly off.
Join Town Watch
For more information, or to volunteer with Tacony/Holmesburg/Upper Mayfair Town Watch, visit the website or call 215-335-3438.
“It is a safe, organized patrol. You are not put in any danger,” he said. “We always partner up. There is always someone with you. You’re never alone.”
Weiseman joined the group with Costello. She wanted a way to report the problems she saw in her neighborhood.
“I like things like helping people,” Weiseman said. “Like this time when we found a couple standing in the pouring rain with a baby and we called the police to get them to a safe place, or when we help with a car accident and wait with the people until the ambulance comes — the human resource stuff.”
There has not been any activity tonight. Costello said that can be typical of a winter night.
“A quiet night can be a boring night but a good night for the town,” he said. Tonight was indeed a good night.
Megan Paolini is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.