WHEN THE troubled teens, struggling shop owners and deep-rooted residents who inhabit Chester Avenue have a problem, they turn to one man: Officer Adrian Hospedale.
For much of the past three years, Hospedale has walked a steady beat through Southwest Philadelphia's rough-and-tumble streets, preaching peace, respect and responsibility.
Pitching a message that harmonious - in an area plagued by gang-bangers and corner drug dealers - initially seemed like a tough sell.
But Hospedale, a relentlessly upbeat guy with a quick smile, managed to win over the weary, law-abiding citizens and some of the bad guys, too.
The locals rewarded him with an affectionate nickname: Reverend Po-Po.
Tonight, Hospedale, 43, will receive another reward for his service to the city: The 24th Annual George Fencl Award.
The award is named for late Civil Affairs Inspector George Fencl, who provided the Police Department with even-handed leadership rooted in honor and dignity during the tumultuous 1960s and '70s.
In his own way, Hospedale has brought similar qualities to the neighborhood that he patrols on a daily basis.
"All my life, I just wanted to make a difference," Hospedale said last week, while greeting passers-by in front of the 12th District's headquarters, at 65th Street and Woodland Avenue.
"I don't believe in negativity. To me, nothing is impossible."
He never expected, though, to win a Fencl Award. "It's an honor and a blessing," he said.
Hospedale grew up in West Philadelphia idolizing his father, Ernest, a Philadelphia Housing Authority cop.
"Me and my brother, we used to run around all the time, reenacting 'Starsky and Hutch,' " Hospedale said, chuckling.
"But I saw a lot of bad stuff going on in our neighborhood, and I wanted to be able to change that when I grew up."
Fifteen years ago, Hospedale joined the Police Department. He was assigned to the 12th District, which has been described in recent years by cops and residents alike as the Baghdad of Philadelphia for its outbursts of violence.
Hospedale saw the good in the area - the quiet, hard-working people who were just trying to earn a living and raise their families.
About three years ago, he was assigned to walk Chester Avenue to Kingsessing Avenue, from 54th Street to 58th, at a time when "we were dealing with shootings, robberies and general chaos out there every day," said 12th District Sgt. Thomas Vale.
He began his foot beat at 10 every morning and worked well into the night. "I didn't like going home until a situation was resolved," Hosepdale said.
To break the ice, he'd tell people about his own life, including his son, Adrian Jr., or his work as an associate pastor at Wynnefield Baptist Church.
He worked especially hard to win over boys who seemed to be drifting toward a life of crime. "A lot of them don't have positive male role models, so I tried to be one for them," Hospedale said.
His presence was welcomed at the Francis Meyers Recreation Center, at 58th Street and Kingsessing Avenue.
"People were scared to come in here because of the fights , but he made a big difference," said Erik Pitts, a longtime caretaker at the center.
"The kids relate to him. He really takes time to talk to them. He'll go to their houses if they're having a problem. You don't get that from a lot of officers."
On Chester Avenue, which is home to a number of businesses, including a grocery store, nail salon and dance studio, Hospedale is treated like a celebrity. There seemed to be no end to the well-wishers who stopped him during his patrol last week.
"This is a good officer here - I'd vote for him for mayor," said Rick Peterson, who shook Hospedale's hand outside of the Chester Family Pizza.
Hospedale regularly "squashes" potentially violent neighborhood disputes, Peterson added.
Across Chester Avenue, at the This N That Outlet, Ruth White said that the veteran cop "makes you feel comfortable and safe around here. He supports us, and we go out there and support him."
Longtime local resident Josephine Blow often invites Hospedale to take a seat on her patio and talk about their dreams for the area.
"He knows how to talk to people with respect and dignity, even if they have problems," she said.