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Pope Neighborhood Watch Program offers help

  • Published
  • By Maj. James Hodges
  • 43rd Security Forces Squadron
I'd like to thank the Pope community for your vigilance and "taking a bite out of crime." 
Every member of our joint military community deserves a safe, secure environment to live, play, and work in. I wanted to take a moment and ask for your support to get involved with an initiative you will soon hear about. 

Neighborhood Watch is one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear of crime. Neighborhood Watch forges bonds among housing residents, helps reduce burglaries and robberies and improves relations between police and the communities they serve. Per my direction, the 43rd Security Forces Squadron has initiated a three-phase process to establish a Neighborhood Watch program on Pope. 

The first phase of the program was initiated on July 1. Phase one has targeted creating interest in the Neighborhood Watch program within the housing community by handing out packets of information. Additionally, 43rd SFS members are collecting information by conducting surveys and annotating the concerns of housing residents. To date, we have contacted more than half of all residences. Of the residents contacted, 21 people have identified themselves as being interested in being a community member of the Neighborhood Watch program. 

Phase two involves establishing an organized, recurring Neighborhood Watch meeting. The meetings will provide security forces and the community a forum to address issues within housing and an opportunity to disseminate information. The first meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place Oct. 7. 

Phase three involves turning the program over to the community, while security forces and others remain actively involved as a resource and advocate to the community. A successful program provides the security forces with critical information to more proactively provide for the safety and security of our residents. 

Throughout the country, dramatic decreases in burglary and related offenses are reported by law enforcement professionals in communities with active watch programs. 

The transient society created by the deployments and permanent change of station tempo of the Air Force produces on-base communities that are less personal. Many families have two working parents and children involved in many activities that keep them away from home. An empty house in a neighborhood where none of the neighbors know the owner is a prime target for burglary. Neighborhood Watch also helps build pride and serves as a springboard for efforts that address other community concerns such as recreation for youth, and child care. 

On Pope, there has been a noticeable increase in crime in the housing community. Security forces has increased its presence in the community through "knock and talks" and a bike patrol; however, we cannot be everywhere at all times. It is imperative that the community become involved in deterring crime. 

Any community resident can join -- young or old, single or married. Even the busiest of people can belong to a Neighborhood Watch -- they too can keep an eye out for neighbors as they come and go. 

A Neighborhood Watch is neighbors helping neighbors. They are extra eyes and ears for reporting crime and helping neighbors. Members meet their neighbors; learn how to make their homes more secure; watch out for each other and the neighborhood; and report suspicious activity to security forces. 

Suspicious activity to be aware of may include, but is not limited to: someone looking in windows of houses and parked cars; property being taken out of houses where no one is home; cars, vans, or trucks moving slowly with no apparent destination or without lights; anyone being forced into a vehicle; a stranger sitting in a car or stopping to talk to a child. Report these incidents to the 43rd SFS. Talk about concerns and problems with your neighbors. 

Call 9-1-1 or the Law Enforcement Desk at (910) 394-2800; give your name and address; explain what happened; briefly describe the suspect: sex and race, age, height, weight, hair color, clothing, distinctive characteristics such as a beard, mustache, scars, or accent; describe the vehicle if one was involved: color, make, model, year, license plate, and special features such as stickers.