Mayfair Town Watch has moved one step closer to its goal of street patrols by finishing up its member training session, with plans to hit the streets this weekend.
“I think we need to get out there on the streets ASAP, and that’s what this is all about,” President John Vearling said.
“Lenny [Roberts, vice president] and I had a meeting with Angel Hartman, president of Tacony Town Watch, which is extremely successful with about 200 members,” he continued.
In the meeting, Vearling and Roberts were given insight on what they need to do in order to be as successful as Tacony’s Town Watch. They also got a call from Frankford Town Watch, who was also supportive. The board members agreed it’s important to have someone experienced guiding the members through their first patrols.
Vearling said his plan is to have members report to a central base, rather than have every patrol team report directly to the police. Neighbors with complaints can do the same. The goal, he said, is to make it so that people can call the Town Watch before the police, so that they can know someone is listening to them — something Sgt. Kevin McDevitt of the 15th District said he agrees with.
“Let’s face it, the 15th is a huge district and we can have multiple jobs going on at the same time,” McDevitt said.
Regarding complaints sent to him on his phone, Vearling said he uses them as an opportunity. “Every time, I invite them out to join Mayfair Town Watch. It is everyone’s responsibility.” Recruiting new members has been the crux of Mayfair Town Watch’s mission.
The proceedings then turned over to the night’s main goal with Chad Enos, Community Support Specalist for Town Watch, who was there to finish training members.
Enos’ first issue was patrol areas. He passed out maps of the Northeast to all members.
“You don’t want to spread yourself to thin,” he said. “I’d rather see you start small and grow larger, rather than people saying this is too big.” Enos suggested the group start patrolling on Fridays and Saturdays, typically the busiest nights for any town watch group.
Vearling suggested patrol boundaries reach as far as the group’s farthest members, settling on Rhawn Street to Harbison Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard to Cottage Street. Though the patrol area will overlap with Tacony’s, Vearling said the already establish group is OK with that, and also gave Mayfair Town Watch its coverage of Lincoln High School.
One thing Enos stressed was his no weapons policy.
“Don’t use common sense when patrolling,” he said, “because if it was common, everybody would have it. Use good sense.”
Along those lines, Vearling said he wants to be “more than a typical town watch where we’re just chasing a bunch of people around.” He also plans to have drug awareness programs.
The first three schools to receive the program will be St. Matt’s, St. Tim’s and Mayfair Elementary School. The program will be in coordination with the National Guard and the Philadelphia Police Department.
“Realistically, we’ve started behind the eight ball,” Vearling said, regarding the future of the Mayfair Town Watch, “Now, we’ve caught up, and are ready to move forward.”