First-ever citywide Neighborhood Watch meeting set for March 10

March 04, 2009
Santa Paula Police Department

Across the nation crime is of concern to citizens in cities, suburbs, towns, and rural areas.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula Times“Across the nation crime is of concern to citizens in cities, suburbs, towns, and rural areas. Increasingly, citizens and law enforcement professionals realize that neither one can eradicate crime working separately. Neighbors and other concerned citizens, working cooperatively with law enforcement, can have a positive effect.“Home burglaries, in particular, can be minimized when community residents take steps to make their homes less attractive and vulnerable to burglars.“Burglary, the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft, is generally considered a crime against property. It has, however, a high potential for death or injury to the victim who comes into surprise contact with the intruder. Through the well recognized concept of Neighborhood Watch, a community-based program since 1972, residents of thousands of communities across the nation have discovered that they can make a difference in preventing crime.” From the National Neighborhood Watch manualBelieving that the best protection is being proactive, the Santa Paula Police Department is hosting the first-ever citywide Neighborhood Watch meeting. The meeting, open to all residents, will be held Tuesday, March 10 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Community Center, 530 W. Main Street.Santa Paula Police Detective David Lusk and Sergeant Ishmael Cordero will be giving a presentation on how Neighborhood Watch can help protect your homes and your neighbors’ homes. SPPD Chief Steve Mackinnon will also be available to answer any questions and/or concerns you may have regarding the department’s crime prevention efforts.According to Lusk, who has been teaching the program for more than a year, there are about five Neighborhood Watch areas in the city. And when neighbors band together, it results in numerous benefits to the neighborhood and the SPPD.
“It is more eyes and ears for the police, we can’t be everywhere,” and the program also “brings cohesion to the neighborhood” by being cordial, understanding each other’s behaviors as they bond for a common goal. In addition, Lusk said, Neighborhood Watch “builds a relationship between the community and the police department.”Being involved in Neighborhood Watch is easy: “It’s very simple and very effective... all you really need to do is have a group of interested individuals with a desire” who contact Lusk or Cordero to arrange a meeting time. “We’ll come and give a presentation on the program’s benefits and how to start a Neighborhood Watch.”Lusk noted Neighborhood Watch is “basically doing what you’d already be doing now... if you see someone breaking into a house, calling the police.” But what is different about Neighborhood Watch is “You get an idea of what is normal and not normal in your neighborhood... then you’d call the police and we’d check it out.”Lusk emphasized Neighborhood Watch is “not a vigilante group... we ask that no members intervene in taking any enforcement action,” such as confronting suspicious subjects or attempting a citizen’s arrest. “The object” of a Neighborhood Watch member “is for them not to be a victim, but to be the solution.”Studies have proven that Neighborhood Watch is the most effective and least expensive crime prevention program available, welcome news in a troubled economy and shrinking or frozen public safety budgets.By attending the March 10 communitywide Neighborhood Watch meeting, Lusk noted, “you can take the first step in getting one started in your neighborhood... we would like to have the room filled. Chief MacKinnon is strongly in support of Neighborhood Watch and crime prevention programs” that only require citizens to care enough to be involved.For more information call Detective Lusk or Sergeant Cordero at the SPPD, 525-4474.

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