With the RWCW, neighbors unite again against crime

Fol­low­ing the ex­ample of the Na­tion­al Night Out, the River Wards Crime Watch is host­ing monthly meetups throughout the com­munity aimed at curb­ing crime and vi­ol­ence.

Every year throughout the city, neigh­bors fill the streets for an even­ing of peace­ful demon­stra­tion against crime.

Na­tion­al Night Out, which will be held this year on Au­gust 7, brings to­geth­er loc­al res­id­ents to take a stand against crime in their com­munit­ies. Every­one spends the even­ing out on the street, hop­ing to show trouble­makers that they are ever- vi­gil­ant in keep­ing out crim­in­al activ­ity.

That’s at least what the event hopes to ac­com­plish. Here in the river­wards, though, one night a year might not be enough.

To rem­edy that, the newly formed River­Wards Crime Watch is now host­ing monthly “night out” events to prove they are ser­i­ous about curb­ing crime throughout the com­munity.

Last week on Fri­day, April 27, mem­bers of the crime watch group gathered at the corner of Columbia and Thompson streets in Fishtown, just out­side of Het­zell’s Play­ground, for the latest of these events.

“It’s like the way the city hosts its an­nu­al clean up,” said Neil Brech­er, chair­man of the RW­CW. “But that’s not the only time there is a neigh­bor­hood cleanup…It’s nice to have the city­wide events, but we want to do these to sort of fill in the gaps.”

He said the group hopes to act as the “eyes and ears” for the po­lice and re­ports prob­lems they may en­counter to the au­thor­it­ies.

Brech­er said they de­cided to meet near Het­zell’s field be­cause re­cently, dur­ing area clean ups, neigh­bors have found an in­creased amount of drug paraphernalia – in­clud­ing small bag­gies and needles – in the areas sur­round­ing the park.

He said, though, that the field it­self is locked in the even­ings, and the paraphernalia has been not been found on the in­side of the field, just the out­skirts.

“It’s really in­creased in the past year,” said Tom Potts, neigh­bor­hood ad­vis­ory com­mit­tee co­ordin­at­or for the New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion. “Out here, un­der the trees, it can be a quiet, nice place to do their – let’s say – stuff…In the area, there really has been a lot of drug use and we are try­ing to keep it out.”

Mag­gie O’Bri­en, pres­id­ent of Fishtown Ac­tion, said the monthly night out gath­er­ings are held as a way to sup­port the neigh­bor­hood’s loc­al po­lice dis­trict – the 26th dis­trict – be­cause neigh­bors know that with so much activ­ity in the com­munity, there aren’t enough po­lice of­ficers in the 26th to cov­er it all.

Asked if she had con­cerns that the neigh­bors were show­ing sup­port in areas where drug ad­dicts might be lurk­ing, she grinned.

“This lets them know that we know,” she said.

Dur­ing the chilly even­ing, as the gath­er­ing on the corner grew, neigh­bors chat­ted as chil­dren and pets played in the area where neigh­bors are hop­ing to re­move the crim­in­al ele­ment.

Look­ing across the field at an even­ing soft­ball game that was held that day, Potts said that he wants to sup­port the crime watch group be­cause it’s a tool that gives neigh­bors power to make a dif­fer­ence in their com­munity.

“We just want people to know we care about the neigh­bor­hood,” he said.

For more in­form­a­tion on the River­Ward Crime Watch or to learn about up­com­ing events, vis­it www.RW­CW.org.

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com 


You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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