Though membership means three to four months of training—CPR, martial arts, general procedure and safety protocols—under the circumstances, Soto will hit the pavement in a red beret tomorrow. Within 20 minutes, he’s already wearing an official Guardian Angels sweatshirt.
Soto moved from Kensington to Camden. Someone overhears this and laughs. “You traded one good neighborhood for another!” he says. “Yeah,” snorts Soto.
Camden resident Michelle Sheppard, 52, is glad people like Soto want to join the Angels, but echoes the sentiment of many when she says it’s no replacement for police.
“The city is already in danger, but you’re going to take away its armed forces? That’s what it is, armed forces, because it’s a battlefield out here,” she says while waving her cigarette across the street, at the bus shelters.
“I heard they’re recruiting security guards from Camden hospital,” says 38-year-old Shannon Souzers, who grew up in Collingswood and says she’s watched the area crumble.
“They need people to help them... Right now, we’re outnumbered, two to one,” she says, glancing around. “At least.”