Watch Groups (Part 1)
With the recent rash of home invasions and burglaries, are you worried about crime in your neighborhood? You are not alone. More than likely, your next door neighbor is probably as concerned as you are.
Crime destroys neighborhoods and can shatter lives. Crime can also cause a climate of fear and mistrust with one another. Residents withdraw into their homes and lose contact with each other. As neighbors withdraw from each other, crime increases. Crime tends to thrive in neighborhoods where residents keep to themselves and do not get involved. Although Dougherty County has three law enforcement agencies, the police or deputy sheriffs cannot be everywhere at all times. Law enforcement needs the eyes and ears of concerned and caring citizens. We must all work together in preventing crime in our neighborhoods. So what can you do to prevent or reduce crime in your neighborhood?
If you live in a neighborhood that does not have an active neighborhood watch program, you need to form a small watch group with neighbors who live in close proximity to you. A common fault that I see being played out over and over is apathy. Sometimes we only tend to be concerned about our own property or we do not want to get involved because we might have to go to court.
Neighborhood watch groups make a criminal’s job tougher when citizens are watching out for each other. Neighbors need to look out for each other and communicate with each other about suspicious activity in and around their neighborhood.
After forming your small group, hold an initial meeting and hear the concerns of your neighbors and concentrate on their needs. If possible, elect a captain or chairperson who will be responsible in conveying or relaying updated information about crime or suspicious activity to the group.
Your group needs to establish a regular means of communication such as a newsletter and/or possibly using email. Make sure to collect telephone numbers and keep them in a safe place in case of an emergency.
Also be sure to keep all of the group’s telephone numbers updated on a regular basis. Have a law enforcement official attend your first organized meeting. You can call me at the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office at 430-6508. You can also contact a representative of the Albany Police Department at 431-2100 or the Dougherty County Police Department at 430-6600.
Having a law enforcement official attend your meeting will greatly benefit your group. The representative will give your group expert advice and prepare them with a plethora of knowledge on what to look for and how to handle various situations that may arise.
In next month’s article, I will discuss the three main areas that your group should focus on and how you should respond to suspicious activity. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call my office.
Written by Kevin Sproul