by Valerie W. Chung
The coordinator of the North Cambridge Crime Task Force, spoke at the June 30 contributors meeting at The Alewife about the NCCTF and the Aug. 1 National Night Out.
The National Night Out, held in the Rindge Field behind the Peabody School, promotes safety and crime awareness in North Cambridge, said John Serwecinski, who operates out of the trailer office next to Russell Field.
The NNO will feature law enforcement and fire safety demonstrations, information tables and a community cookout and BBQ, a raffle, and pony rides and other amusements for kids, he said.
More than 500 kids from day camps will attend, and he hopes that more adults in the community will be encouraged to attend in support of neighborhood safety awareness, he said.
The event is the year’s highlight for the group, which is grassroots organization, consisting of 15 local citizen volunteers who meet regularly to identify and resolve local problem issues and organize events in service of safety in the area, he said.
Another service the NCCTF brings to the community is as an information clearinghouse keeping people in touch with community higher-ups, who can address problems directly, he said. “We bring resources to the city and tighten awareness amongst citizens and local agencies.”
The NCCTF also provides a general communications and ‘neighborhood watch’ center for the Cambridge community.
Standing with his arms behind his back, John Serwecinski, the coordinator of the North Cambridge Crime Task Force with Alewife contributors. Alewife Photo by Neil W. McCabe
“It’s important for neighbors to get to know each other and discuss issues,” Serwecinski said. “We want people to feel comfortable enough that they can report any suspicious behavior, or raise concerns if something looks out of place.”
Recently the NCCTF sponsored a trip for local students from the Gately Youth Center to the Bay State Correctional Facility in Norfolk, he said. There where several inmates spoke about their life stories, focusing in particular on crime and the consequences that their choices have brought them.
The outing was part of the ‘Prison Voices’ program designed for the classroom, not as part of a ‘scare ‘em straight’ tactic, he said. “We are not the police.”
Serwecinski said that crime rates over the winter have been exceptionally low, which has been a big plus for the community.
Although crime in Cambridge is seasonal and tends to increase over the summer, he hopes that NCCTF and their presence in the community will continue to provide preventative assistance, he said.
He said that he is very encouraged by communication with residents who have felt comfortable enough to simply drop by his trailer and have a chat with him about their concerns.