Editor’s Note: The safety tip for the month of September is provided by Mifflin County Communities That Care (CTC). This is an ongoing monthly series provided by CTC to help inform the public about key areas of safety concerns. This month’s article was submitted by Chuck Dicken, Community Watch Coordinator, who is funded by CTC’s Drug Free Community grant.

WHAT IS COMMUNITY WATCH?

By Chuck Dicken

Community Watch”, also referred to as ‘block watch’ or ‘neighborhood watch’, is a partnership between the community and law enforcement aimed at reducing crime in Mifflin County while instilling a greater sense of security within our neighborhoods and schools.

Community Watch is one of the best known and oldest crime prevention concepts in American history. Its roots are traced back to the day of colonial settlements when night watchmen walked the streets of those early communities.

Over the years, due to an alarming increase in personal and property crimes, police have requested a crime prevention program that would incorporate more citizen involvement. The National Sheriffs’ Association took it to the next level when they made this concept a national initiative in 1972, calling it the National Neighborhood Watch Program. In the first two years of this program, police educated citizens on how not to become victims of crime and how to make their homes more secure against burglaries.

Community Watch groups have grown far beyond just being the eyes and the ears for police. They are effective tools in promoting safety and security in residential communities nationwide.

If you are experiencing problems with safety and crime in your community, be proactive and start a Community Watch program today. And if you are NOT currently experiencing problems with safety and crime in your community, start a program today to keep these problems away.

A Community Watch program in your area, whether it is a high crime area or not, will have many rewards for you and your family. Benefits of having a Community Watch program many and include:

 

  • · Reducing the risk of being a crime victim: Group members are taught to take preventative measures that decrease the likelihood of becoming a crime victim. Various topics are discussed at the Community Watch meetings such as personal safety, burglary and theft prevention, how to do a household inventory, and door and window security.
  • · Being better prepared to respond to suspicious activity: Members are trained on how to recognize and report suspicious activity. Community Watch members do not themselves go after the ‘bad guy’ or get physically involved in the crime event, but will report suspicious activity to their police department. Those who report suspicious activity will be kept anonymous.
  • · Greater access to criminal activity information: Community Watch programs are designed to allow police to keep members informed of current crime trends and patterns, allowing citizens to be better prepared to respond to criminal activity in their neighborhood.
  • · “Community Watch” sign posted in your neighborhood: Criminals know an area with Community Watch signs posted is not an easy target. This sends a message to the criminal that this neighborhood is organized against crime, and they are probably being observed now.
  • · Knowing your neighbors: Let’s all put neighbor back into neighborhood. Community Watch programs promote getting to know your neighbors and looking out for them. This also instills a greater sense of community.

 

How to start a Community watch program in Mifflin County? If you live in Mifflin County and would like to start a Community Watch program in your area, please contact Officer Eric Ettinger at the Mifflin County Regional Police Department (248-1900) or Chuck Dicken, Community Watch Coordinator with Communities That Care (248-3994).

 

Street sense tips while you are out

1. Stick to well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots and alleys.

2. Don’t flash large amounts of cash.

3. Always carry a purse close to your body; do not dangle it by the straps.

4. Try to use the ATM during the daytime and have your card in your hand. Don’t use the machine if you are uneasy about people nearby.

5. Have your car or house key in your hand before you reach the door.

6. If you think someone is following you, switch directions walk towards an open store, restaurant or a lighted house. If you are scared, yell for help.

7. If you are robbed or someone tries to take your car, don’t resist, give up your property, don’t give up your life. Try and get a good description of the suspect for police so you can help prevent this from happening to someone else.