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Knightstown Police Initiating Neighborhood Crime Watch
October 10, 2007 - Knightstown Town Marshal Danny Baker hopes to multiply the police department’s crime fighting strength by implementing a new Neighborhood Crime Watch program here.
Baker and citizen organizer Dan Webber unveiled their plan Thursday night at a Knightstown Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Baker told The Banner he hopes to have the program, which won’t use taxpayer funds, up and running by February. The local program will be modeled on one used in New Castle and designed by the National Sheriff’s Association.
“Law enforcement can’t be everywhere at once,” Baker said. “This just gives us some extra sets of eyes.”
He said Knightstown has seen a spike in theft and burglaries, a trend he attributed to rising drug use. “People are stealing and burglarizing to pay for the drugs they’re using,” Baker said.
Webber said the town will be broken down into five quadrants: northeast, southwest, northwest, southwest and the Cottonwood Heights area west of town. Once the map is established, citizen watch groups will be formed to keep an eye neighborhoods.
“Citizens won’t be allowed to make arrests or pursue suspects,” Baker said. “They’ll be information gatherers. They’ll have cell phones and flash lights so they can report suspicious activity to police.” According to Baker, participants will undergo training, which will be conducted by law enforcement officials.
Funding will be a key ingredient for the newly formed organization. Baker and Webber estimate that it will cost at least $2,000 to launch the program and equip citizens will cell phones, flashlights and identifying T-shirts. While they’ve already received a $100 donation, they’re not sure where the remaining money will come from. However, they are researching grant opportunities and money that might be available from the Department of Homeland Security.
“Safety for our community is the main reason this effort is taking place,” Baker said. “This is something for the citizens of Knightstown. The whole community can be involved. It’s for the protection of the community and its businesses and citizens. We want dedicated, committed people.”
According to the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA), which founded the National Neighborhood Crime Watch program, such organizations can lead to other positive activities. “The enthusiasm of crime prevention is contagious and participants often seek additional ways to become involved,” information from the NSA said.
“The adoption of community policing by local law enforcement agencies has also contributed to the resurgence in watch groups over the years,” the NSA continued. “Neighborhood Watch fits nicely within the framework of law enforcement/community partnerships, and Neighborhood Watch meetings can be a useful forum to discuss neighborhood problems and practice problem-solving techniques.”
Those interested in participating in the program, may contact organizer Dan Webber at 345-7146 or Knightstown Town Marshal Danny Baker at 345-2785.
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