Richmond retooling Neighborhood Watch
RICHMOND - The Neighborhood Watch is undergoing changes to make Richmond a safer place to live by guarding against the threats of violence. The group is being reformulated as the current president, Dallen Smith, is stepping down.
Smith said he felt it was time for a change.
"I think Lois will do a better job than I could because I am too busy with work to devote a lot of time to the Neighborhood Watch," Smith said.
Lois Anderson will be the new chairperson. The City Council recently approved her appointment with a unanimous vote. Anderson will choose someone to co-chair the program with her. She said she is unsure about who she will appoint, but thinks the change will help give the Neighborhood Watch more direction.
"I don't know who I'm going to pick, but I'm really excited about it," she said.
The change of governance will not be the only alteration for the group, Anderson said. She hopes to inform "law enforcement agencies and make the community more aware of the program."
According to the Neighborhood Watch website, a neighborhood watch can be more effective by involving law enforcement. The website directs people to "contact the police or sheriff's department or local crime prevention organization for help in training members in home security and reporting skills and for information on local crime patterns."
Anderson would like to spread news about the program by including information in the newsletter and by purchasing more signs for the Watch.
Diane Sickler, a longtime resident of Richmond, says she was unaware that Richmond had a neighborhood watch. "I have never seen any signs or anything like that," she said. "I would like to become part of the organization if I knew more about it."
The signs would be valuable because they would be prominent reminders to criminals, said Councilman Allen Lundgreen, the council member who supervises the group.
The signs read, "Our neighbors are watching over one another's family members and property and they have been trained to report suspicious activity or persons in the neighborhood," according to the National Safety Association's website.
Neighborhood Watch is composed of community members concerned about safety in their city. According to the website, it doesn't matter how old people are or what economic status they have. Anyone with a clean record is welcome to join the group.
The purpose of a such a group is not to capture criminals, but to notify the police about danger. Members of the group are instructed to look for unusual things happening in their neighborhood and notify the police about it.
Things people should look for include someone screaming or shouting for help, someone looking into windows and parked cars, unusual noises, property being taken out of closed businesses or houses where no one is at home, vehicles 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, and abandoned cars.
The Neighborhood Watch program is also designed to help residents make their own homes safer.
Lundgreen said he is really excited about the changes that are being made. "I think that neighborhood watch will be a much more visible organization," Lundgreen said.