Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Watching for Crime, with the Neighbors' Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Watching for Crime, with the Neighbors' Help

Article excerpt

The residents of the Scott Mill Bluff subdivision don't have

a Neighborhood Watch program yet.

But that didn't stop them from gathering on their street

Tuesday night to take part in the city's 14th annual National

Night Out, which urges residents to get to know each other and

form Neighborhood Watches. About 10 of the 20 homeowners showed

up at the gathering hosted by homeowner Anair Wild, who said

Neighborhood Watch worked in the last area he lived in, so why

not here?

"It is an effective program. My parents live not too far

from here and they have it," he said. "I am hoping this will

stimulate a bit more interaction between neighbors. It doesn't

look as though we are as cohesive as I would like to see."

In contrast, Neighborhood Watch has been active in the

264-home Ramsgate neighborhood for 11 years, and about 40

neighbors gathered in Society Court for their annual Night Out

block party.

Neighborhood Watch coordinator Janet Yoder said the program

isn't working as well as she would like. But she admitted

neighbors have become more alert to strangers since some recent

auto burglaries, including a nine-car spree March 20.

"At least I am getting more reports of things happening now,"

Yoder said. "Then when I do our quarterly newsletter, I list

them [reports]. Hopefully, when people see these lists getting

longer and longer as people start reporting incidents, then

maybe they will start paying attention to the neighbors. I think

they are."

Three Mandarin neighborhoods joined about 100 others in

Jacksonville to celebrate National Night Out with rallies, block

parties and barbecues, spending their time meeting with each

other and police. The program is designed to get neighbors

outside to meet each other and heighten awareness of crime

prevention.

Mandarin's biggest crime problem now is auto burglaries.

Increasing neighborhood awareness of strangers and working with

police to crime-proof their homes through Neighborhood Watch

could help them, said Sheriff's Office Assistant Chief Justin

Hill, in charge of Mandarin and Southside's police patrols.

"It is vitally important for citizens to take part in crime

prevention and form that strong partnership with the the

sheriff's department," Hill said. "It is a fact that they will

pay attention to more that is around them than someone who is

not part of the program. They will be more aware of speeding and

they will know who to call. It just opens the doors of

opportunity for communication with the sheriff's department."

Beat officer Betty Bates was doing a lot of communicating

Tuesday as she visited with neighbors in Ramsgate and Scott Mill

Bluff, areas she has patrolled for the past five years. …

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