The 24th District of the Philadelphia Police Department has a dedicated group of volunteers involved in its Police District Advisory Council.
Last week, the 24th District’s PDAC held its first annual golf outing to raise funds to support the district and support future community events.
“Some of the funding raised today will go towards community events, and some will goes towards getting a third dirt bike,” said Capt. Charles Vogt after taking a few whacks at the Juniata Golf Club during the outing.
The PDAC helped raise a $14,000 grant from local businesses in January 2013 that paid for two Suzuki dirt bikes for the district, which have been used for targeting criminal activity in parks, on train tracks, and in other places where normal cars can’t go. They’ve been so successful that the district is seeking to get a third bike.
“We’re going to make this golf outing an annual event and publicize it even more, to make a it a lot bigger next year,” Capt. Vogt pledged.
The turnout at the 24th District PDAC’s first golf outing was 13 golfers, less than the PDAC had hoped for, but still enough for a good day of golfing.
“It’s so great to spend all day playing golf … it’s also nice just to have a day off,” said 24th District Officer Michael Mitchell, 26, a three-year veteran of the force who participated in the outing.
Mitchell had the longest drive of the day last week, launching a golf ball 320-330 yards.
“It’s a great support for the 24th district,” Officer Mitchell said of the PDAC. “I think the outing is a great thing for camaraderie with the police department and the citizens.”
The golf outing was just one of the many ideas cooked up by Pat Healey, chairman of the 24th district PDAC, since he took on leadership of the group a year and a half ago.
“We’re definitely going to do it better next year, I can already tell,” Healey said.
In addition to the PDAC’s traditional programs for the 24th District officers, such as a Thanksgiving dinner for officers on duty during Thanksgiving, Healey said he’s thinking about organizing an essay competition for local students, as well as a job fair.
Beyond the community service events, Healey said he is focused on helping to support the officers of the 24th District, which covers the neighborhoods of Port Richmond, Juniata, Harrowgate and Kensington.
“They’re certainly strapped for manpower, there’s no doubt about that,” Healey said. “They have I believe the second highest rate of calls in the city, and one of the highest homicide rates, but they’re way down on manpower.”
Healey has also been involved with Port Richmond Town Watch for about seven years. He believes that when police are underfunded, local residents need to step up with reporting criminal activity.
“We need to get the citizens to work more closely with police. We’ve got to be more vigilant about the police working with us and us working with the police,” he said.
Healey said he’s seen the difference in Port Richmond as neighbors have become more aware of how they can assist the police as their “eyes and ears,” by both calling 911 and calling the district directly to report suspicious activity. Suspected centers of criminal activity get raided, arrests are made, and the neighborhood is made safer, Healey said.
Sponsors for the PDAC and their golf outing include the office of State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.), Philadelphia Pharmacy, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Walmart and Target. ••