Roxborough’s Town Watch Night Out brings community, police together

 Roxborough residents gathered at Gorgas Park on Tuesday night for the annual National Night Out event. (Carrie Hagen/for NewsWorks)

Roxborough residents gathered at Gorgas Park on Tuesday night for the annual National Night Out event. (Carrie Hagen/for NewsWorks)

Dozens of Roxborough residents gathered in Gorgas Park last night for the annual Town Watch Night Out, part of a national event that encourages locals to play a key role in neighborhood safety. During the two-hour event, residents caught up with their neighbors, local police officers and town watch volunteers. Roxborough’s Shoprite on Ridge Avenue donated food, and children played while eating hot dogs and snack packs of chips.

Creating emergency ID cards for kids 

The highlight of the evening was a children’s identification service provided by New York Life Insurance. Within minutes, parents who agreed to have their children photographed and fingerprinted received a laminated identification card to use in case of an emergency. According to Antonella DiFelice, an agent based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., New York Life does not retain any of the children’s information. It’s a service they provide, she said, in its efforts to “help people protect themselves financially and protect their children physically.”

Timothy Christmas, 36, lives a few blocks away from Gorgas Park. He learned about the annual event from a police officer who invited him and his 3-year-old son while playing in the park’s playground. Christmas said he appreciated the opportunity to document his son’s current information. “It’s really neat that they gave out IDs,” he said.

Warning against a ‘false sense of security’ 

The Philadelphia Police Department’s Fifth District hosted the Town Watch Night Out event. Officers Charlie Kline and Carol Bond were present throughout the entire evening. Both said that while Roxborough is one of Philadelphia’s safer districts, property theft is a major concern.

“Use simple common sense,” said Officer Bond.

Her colleague agreed. “Always remove valuables from your car,” emphasized Officer Kline. “Don’t leave anything visible.”

Captain John Cerrone echoed this advice when he addressed the crowd shortly before 8 p.m. He said that crime in Roxborough was down 7 percent over the past year.

“We don’t have the violence they have in other areas of the city,” said Cerrone, before noting Roxborough’s problems with property crime.

The captain attributed partial responsibility for neighborhood theft to “a false sense of security” that lulls transients and others to leave car doors unlocked. “Always talk to your neighbors,” advised Cerrone. He encouraged residents to immediately report dubious circumstances by calling the precinct, and not to worry about making false inferences. “I’d rather that happen than you or your neighbor fall victim.”

How to get involved 

Doug Evans, captain of the Roxborough Town Watch, asked neighbors to contact him if they and others on their blocks were interested in starting a new patrol group. “What we expect,” he told NewsWorks, “is that people observe, document, and report.”

Roxborough residents interested in joining the town watch can contact Doug Evans through www.townwatch.net or by phone at 215-685-4524.

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