Days after a gunman opened fire on officers in Frankford, Inspector Frank Bachmayer gathered together the captains of Northeast Philadelphia’s four police districts.
Bachmayer happened to be nearby when the man began shooting Jan. 9 from a second-floor window of his home on the 4600 block of Hawthorne Street, and he was at the scene within minutes.
In the end, the gunman, 47-year-old Claude Fain, was killed, and no officers or civilians were injured, but Bachmayer, a 39-year veteran of the force, said it was still an “extremely stressful” situation for law enforcement.
He told Capt. John Walker, commanding officer of the 15th District, to go out to Hawthorne Street the next day and talk with neighbors about the traumatic situation.
Then, Bachmayer met with his captains to go over the sequence of events. They critiqued every aspect of the response to the shooting.
“That’s how we improve on what we do,” Bachmayer, 59, of Torresdale, said. “We just don’t have a job like that and just walk away.”
Bachmayer was appointed to lead the Northeast Police Division last month, but his connection to the area runs deep.
He grew up on Hellerman Street, about two blocks from his office on the second floor of the police station at Harbison Avenue and Levick Street, and went to St. Tim’s and Father Judge. Bachmayer also spent six years, from 2006 to 2012, as head of the 15th District and had short stints captaining the 7th District and Northeast Detectives.
Bachmayer, who previously served as commander of East Division, took over from Inspector Michael Gormley.
The way Bachmayer sees it, an inspector’s job is to coordinate and guide his captains.
In his office, he’s got two radios going at all times, one for the 15th and 2nd districts, the other for the 7th and 8th. Bachmayer also has four maps hanging on the wall, with pins marking crimes that have occurred over a two-week period.
He regularly meets with the captains to discuss patterns and trends and go over their plans for crime and quality-of-life issues.
“Email is great. Cell phones are great,” Bachmayer said. “But I want to talk to you in-person. I want to sit down and have command meetings with my captains and discuss things.”
Each district has different concerns, he added. The 15th District, long known as one of the busiest in the city, has much more violent crime than the 7th and 8th. So, there can be “no cookie-cutter plans,” Bachmayer said.
In an interview with the Times, Bachmayer laid out three major priorities — reducing violent crime, especially shootings and homicides; building strong relationships with community groups, such as town watches and business associations; and cracking down on property crimes, like thefts from cars and burglaries.
As a lifelong resident, Bachmayer said the level of shootings and other violent incidents in certain parts of the Northeast is concerning.
For example, around 2 a.m. Jan. 15, an argument involving a large group of people outside Tom’s Pub, 7026 Frankford Ave., led to gunfire. Thankfully, no one was hit, though the shooting left a bullet hole in the bar’s front window.
“That’s the type of violence that we want to not get used to,” he said.
Bachmayer also said he wants aggressive enforcement of truancy and curfew laws, which he believes will help keep kids out of trouble. Curfew for children under 18 is 10:30 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends during the school year.
He stressed a “holistic” approach to policing, where officers work with city agencies and community organizations to combat violence.
“It can’t be just what the police want,” Bachmayer said. “I got a long enough time in this job to know that we cannot solve these types of issues by ourselves.”
Bachmayer joined the department in 1981, and he estimated about 80 percent of his class is retired. His youngest daughter, Rose, was sworn-in last year and is currently assigned to the 35th District in North Philadelphia.
Retirement isn’t too far down the road, Bachmayer said, but he still wants to be involved in making a positive impact on the area.
“I just like what I do,” he said. “I like to go out on the street and patrol and see just what changes we can make.” ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.