National Neighborhood Watch – a Division of the National Sheriffs' Association

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2008 Neighborhood Watch Awards

Over the past five years the USAonWatch program has been recognizing the efforts of neighborhood watch and others that promote community safety. After careful consideration by the USAonWatch Advisory Board this year's winners were recognized for their efforts at the National Sheriffs' Annual Conference. The awards were presented on behalf of the USAonWatch-Neighborhood Watch Program and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Throughout this article you will be introduced to the activities, projects, and programs of this year's award winners.

Excellence by a Sheriff's Office:

Lafourfche Parish Sheriff's Office, LA

Neighborhood Watch is one priority of Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office, LA (LPSO), the men and women of the Sheriff's Office view it as an essential component of a great crime fighting and prevention endeavor. The mission and goals are simple for the office -mobilize a community and empower its' citizens to re-establish control of their neighborhoods.

In addition to the common services offered by most Neighborhood Watch programs such as community education on crime prevention and the Mc Gruff projects, the LPSO offers Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) for women and children, child fingerprinting and DNA swabbing, CPR and First Aid Classes, firearms safety courses, neighborhood beautification events, and any “on-demand” program needed by a neighborhood watch group. Ever Halloween approximately 275 deputies volunteer their time to participate in the annual ‘Blue Light Special.” Officers patrol the neighborhoods with blue lights flashing where children trick-or-treat, ensuring a safe Halloween for all. One of the many unique services of the LPSO Neighborhood Watch program is the “Meet & Greet” socials where block captains from various groups come together to network and exchange ideas to help improve the communities of Lafourche.

LPSO is in the process of starting up two additional programs for the community. First, development of an “Immigrant Neighborhood Watch Group” is in the initial stages. The focus of the project is bridging the gap between local law enforcement and local immigrant communities. Second, creation of a “Cyber-Sharing Forum” is being created. This service will enable block captains and group members to sign into a secure forum and share information across the parish.

Excellence by a Police Department:

Hermiston Police Department, OR

Left to Right: Jim Bruch, BJA; Chief Daniel J Coulombe and Lt. Jason Edmiston, Hermiston Police Department

In early 2004, Hermiston Police Department , OR had 13 inactive Neighborhood Watch Groups (NWG). At the end of 2004 the number of groups grew to 17 (13 reactivated) then grew to 42 in 2005, then by the end of 2006 the city had 50 and by the end of 2007 there were 52 active NWG's within the community.

The Hermiston Police Department (HPD) consists of 23 sworn officers and has been working to implement technology to better serve its citizens. In 2007, HPD worked with representatives from numerous agencies on 111 projects in the community. The department gave 67 presentations ranging from drug awareness, gangs, bicycle safety, gun safety, CPTED, identity theft and much more. The departments crime prevention unite also facilitated monthly meetings where members from each Neighborhood Watch Group and the general public were able to meet with City and Department leaders to address community concerns.

The changed vision of the HPD over the past seven years, which aligns with the City, has worked to promote lines of communication between the department and the public. Open lines of communication have allowed the department to expand its Neighborhood Watch Program and directly lead to the reduction of crime rates in the community.

Excellence by a Neighborhood Watch Group:

Toledo Neighborhood Block Watch, OH

Left to Right: Jim Bruch, BJA; Micheal Dearth, Chairman of Toledo Neighborhood Watch; Sheriff James A. Telb, Ph.D, Lucas County, OH

Started in the early 1980's, the Toledo Neighborhood Block Watch, OH went onto bring community policing to the City in the mid-1990's. The mission of the group is to form a partnership with community volunteers to create safer and more wholesome neighborhoods. According to Sheriff Teib, “Boots on the Street” and strong-built partnerships are the cornerstones of what has allowed the Toledo Neighborhood Block Watch Program to be so successful for the last 25 years.

The Toledo Neighborhood Block Watch works to accomplish many of its goals through handwork and determination. The group helped the city grow from 47 watch groups in 2003 to 170 in March of 2008. They have built other groups throw there continuous activities such as monthly leaser and area group meetings, model block programs, neighborhood clean-ups and beautification projects, educational trainings, youth outreach for clean-ups and social events, and many other programs. Other outreach opportunities the group has undertaken have included working with the Toledo Fire/Rescue to give away smoke detectors and raised funds to contribute to the Police Safety Vest Fund. One goal of the group has been the pursuit to improve the quality of life for all in the city beyond reducing crime to include health issues, infrastructure issues, and issues of nuisance/vacant properties, which has been accomplished through they outreach efforts.

The results from the combined efforts of this program and its partnerships have been evident through a drop in overall crime statistics. For example, homicides fell from 35 in 2006 to 12 in 2007, aiding in a 10% drop in overall crime statistics for 2007 which are the lowest of any major city in the state of Ohio . The Toledo Neighborhood Block Watch has shown not only longevity, but exemplary accomplishments in contributing to the reduction of crime and building a better quality of life for the citizens of Toledo.

Excellence in Neighborhood Watch:

Waste Watch Program

Left to Right: Ret. Sheriff Aaron Kennard, NSA; Barbara, Nussa and Zack Lowe, Wast Management Corp.; Sheriff Craig Webre, NSA President

The Waste Management Corporation (WM) has developed an innovative and productive program called Waste Watch. Waste Watch is a Neighborhood Watch type program. The program trains drivers of their refuse trucks to observe, detect, and report criminal and public safety issues to local police. WM Corporate Security Services and Community Relations organizations initiated this program in 2004 to leverage the geographic reach and presence for its drivers in the communities they service.

In a true public-private alliance, WM staff partner with local community officials to be the eyes and ears on the streets to identify and communicate problems in the community. The Waste Watch program allows WM drivers, helpers and dispatchers to support and assist public safety officers to more quickly respond to problems in the community. The program is national in scope but relies on relationships that are created locally.

The program works like this. In a community that WM services, Waste Watch training teams meet with drivers at regularly scheduled weekly safety meetings. Typically these meetings are held well before sunrise before the drivers leave the yards to start their day. Local law enforcement representatives attend to support and reinforce the program. At these meetings, employees learn how to properly identify and report suspicious, illegal or dangerous situations as they travel their routes. The object is to train WM drivers to recognize and report situations to their dispatcher, who will then relay the information to the appropriate local authorities. The Waste Watch program has trained and certified over 2,500 drivers to be on the lookout and report suspicious activities in neighborhoods they serve.

Don't Forget to submit your nominations for next years award!!!