It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here. Life happens.
We’ve got a new project that we’re organizing and working on right now and I’m so excited.
A little background:
Our neighborhood is wedged between an elevation where an upscale housing development is perched overlooking our homes and a highway that is slightly elevated. Three residential streets run parallel between these two elevations.
There seems to be an equal number of home owners and renters. Some of the rental properties seem to have a high volume turn-over of occupants. As with any neighborhood, there are pockets of more closely knit neighbors, areas where different generations of the same family live within walking distance of one another. Most of the homes are well maintained, with only a few exceptions.
There are a couple of properties that are owned by out-of-state landlords, that are not in very good condition, that are also under the surveillance of local law enforcement.
This brings us to recent issues that have come to light.
Several of us have witnessed what appeared to be drug deals taking place near our homes. A car will drop off an individual who will walk around the block, meet another vehicle on the next street, then walk back to the original vehicle, before leaving the neighborhood. One resident has seen people shooting drugs right in front of his home, on the sidewalk. We have found a number of hypodermic needles in the neighborhood, the most recent in an intersection where children are known to play. We’ve found condoms in the street which are apparently linked to the drug deals and even found a live nine millimeter hollow point round in the alley that a lot of children use to access their school bus stop.
There’s been a lot of graffiti on garages, homes, fences, etc. Recently, vehicles were spray painted that were parked along the street, for blocks.
A number of neighbors report vandalism and minor thefts. We’ve had 10 landscape lights stolen over the last couple of years. We’ve had two lights broken within the past year.
We experienced someone knocking on our door or ringing our door bell then running away and other neighbors have experienced someone kicking their front doors or throwing things against their windows. One neighbor had a vehicle windshield broken by a pellet gun.
We’ve seen a child urinating in public near an area business, another child throwing rocks at a parked vehicle. A few years ago, we saw two teenagers standing under a roof over a door to a neighboring business, smoking pot.
I had recently begun to reach out to some of the area children, talking to them, being friendly, hoping that if they feel someone is paying attention, someone is interested in them, friendly to them, perhaps they will think twice about doing damage to our homes and properties.
A neighbor contacted the Mayor and asked him to come to our neighborhood. A group of us walked with him around the neighborhood, pointing out some problem areas and some issues we’ve been experiencing. He asked if we had a neighborhood watch and we told him no. The one that did exist years ago was disbanded. He suggested starting one.
We’ve been talking to some of the neighbors and realized that a majority of them were interested in starting a new neighborhood watch. I started to research it and tried to contact our police department for information on how to get started. When I didn’t get a response, I did some online research and printed out a bunch of materials I thought might be helpful.
I recently tried making contact with the police again and was successful this time, being put in contact with a gentleman that heads a number of councils and committees in the city, one of which helps to support and manage neighborhood watch programs.
We set a date for an organizational meeting, based on his availability, I put together some flyers and last night my husband and I distributed them within our neighborhood. We were stunned… nearly every person we had direct contact with wanted to be involved. Where we didn’t make direct contact with residents, we left flyers in screen doors.
I’m going to use my organizational skills and put some folders together for members to keep paperwork in. I’m going to print out some Observation forms that the police link to on their website, as well as a list of contact information for the police and city relating to our issues. I’ve got some tablets and pens in my support groups supplies that I can make available and I’m going to offer refreshments because part of this meeting is meant to be social, a “get to know your neighbors” kind of thing.
The neighbors we’ve talked to also showed interest in establishing some “safe houses” for neighborhood children, which is a role neighborhood watch members can play. We also discussed having monthly meetings and perhaps twice a year we could have cookouts for the watch members, perhaps even a Halloween party in a neighborhood yard for the kids in our watch area.
I’ve located a website where neighborhood watches can establish a website so that members can communicate, get neighborhood news, check a calendar for upcoming meetings, etc. We can use that website to connect with other neighborhood watch groups.
I’m excited to get to know more of our neighbors and for us to ‘take back’ our neighborhood from the unsavory element that’s been causing so much trouble.
If anyone who reads this has ever participated in a neighborhood watch and cares to offer some suggestions, or share stories, please feel free to do so.