COLUMBUS, Ind. – Neighborhood watch programs are becoming more common in Columbus.
Lt. Matt Myers, with the Columbus Police Department, said having a neighborhood watch group can help reduce crime. In the last few months, he noticed more people requesting their assistance to explain to them how to begin a neighborhood watch group.
“We’d much rather have 30 sets of eyes, watching a neighborhood, than one police officer going through (a neighborhood) periodically,” he said.
Lt. Myers said more and more people are inquiring about them because they have seen positive impacts in neighborhoods that have them.
“This area right here (referring to 9th and Wilson Street) and what we’ve done (here) has increased a lot of awareness in regards to the neighborhood watch groups,” Lt. Myers said.
Leigha Galicia has lived in the neighborhood, near 9th and Wilson Street, for about 4 years. Galicia said she has seen a difference in her neighborhood, since the neighborhood watch group started.
“The past year, its been changing a lot,” she said.
In the past, she never visited the park in front of her home. She never took her children -until now- because it has changed.
“I (have) seen a lot of drug activity. (I have seen) a lot of pills and all kinds of drugs in the park here,” Galicia said.
Lt. Myers said that area had issues with fighting and drugs, as well as vandalism. He said their department met with people who live in the area that were concerned. Cameras were added near the park and lights were added too. Lt. Myers said the cameras and lights helped create change in the community. He said having an active neighborhood watch group helped too. He said neighborhood watch groups were then started in other neighborhoods identified as hot spots for crime.
Lt. Myers said other neighborhoods noticed changes in those communities that had neighborhood watch groups and because of that, they wanted to start their own groups. He said it wasn’t because they had similar issues. It was more about being proactive. Lt. Myers said communication is important.
Priscilla Scalf, the Eastside Community Center Director, said their neighborhood started a watch group about 10 years ago, but the program has never had stability in the community. She hopes it will finally become a permanent program.
“We’re hoping that if we can nip it from the beginning that we’re able to stop that kind of activity as well,” Scalf said.