The Town Watch began as a Friday and Saturday night patrol group.
Stephen Phillips, president of the Town Watch, said after putting thousands of miles on volunteer patrol members’ cars, the group realized it’s better to have eyes everywhere through community members.
“If you sell them on the concept of just watching their area, where they want to protect anyway, you can get them to buy in a lot quicker.”
Jane Nottingham, a resident of Fox Chase, said Phillips is trying to get younger people to participate because the neighborhood is changing a bit.
“To get them involved they can see what Fox Chase is about,” Nottingham said. “But I don’t think the membership is as high as it use to be.”
Jimmy McCarty, the owner of Jimmy’s Barber Shop, has been in business for the past 10 years on Oxford Avenue.
“I’ve never heard of the Town Watch,” McCarty said. “But this is a nice area and I’ve heard of neighbors stopping crime.”
Neighbors wanting to help better the community is exactly what the Town Watch has become.
Phillips said that when people now ask him how to be involved with the group, he tells them to be a block captain.
“A block captain is another set of eyes and ears on that block,” Phillips said. “We have about 100 to 200 throughout the neighborhood.
“We all have cell phones. You just need organizational skills, and when you hear commotion outside your house, you need to call 9-1-1.”
Fox Chase’s Town Watch has turned into a laid-back organization, but still with good results, even in the past five years. According to crime statistics the Second and Seventh District, where Fox Chase resides, have lower crime numbers than other surrounding Northeast Philadelphia police districts.
Capt. Michael Gormley has been in the Seventh District a little more than a year. He and Officer Richard Simon work very closely with the Town Watch.
Both try to attend the monthly meetings every second Wednesday of the month at the American Legion Post #366 at 7:30 p.m. located at 7276 Oxford Ave.
Gormley said the Town Watch is a good tool in the community because it helps get information out about crime prevention.
“It makes my job easier to know that the Town Watch is in our corner,” Gormley added.
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— Text, images and video by Charlotte Reese.