There is a question I get asked quite often, when I speak to people about Neighborhood Watch. "Is there really that much crime in Montgomery?"
While crime rates in Montgomery may not be what they are in Chicago, crime still exists. Take a look at the police blotter in "The Patch." Stolen bicycles, theft from parked vehicles, home invasion; the list goes on and on. Just because you don't see it, or it doesn't affect you personally, doesn't mean it's not there.
I began this neighborhood watch "journey" in November of 2010; a little over a year ago as I write this. At the time, I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into. Our particular group had about a dozen members at our first meeting with the Montgomery Police Department.
Our original group of twelve has grown beyond my initial expectations, and we are still recruiting...always. Many of us get out every weekend, and sometimes on weeknights, to walk the neighborhood and common areas. We've felt the incidence of "suspicious activity" in our parks and common areas drop. Many more of our neighbors know us now. A funny side-effect is that if our neighbors see dark figures walking the streets at night, they know it's most likely us. And if it's not us, we're not far behind. Just having a presence in the neighborhood is an effective deterrent.
According to the website www.USAonWatch.org the registered watch programs in Montgomery are as follows:
- Boulder Hill
- Foxmoor/Fairfield Way
- Lakewood Creek
- Lakewood Creek West
- Montgomery Crossings
Just because your watch isn't registered, doesn't necessarily mean you don't have one. If you know of a watch that's not registered, encourage them to get on this site! The above website is a great resource for training materials, updates, and others useful tools. Don't have a watch group? USA on Watch is a great place to start. Contacting any of the above groups can help get you on your way as well. At the very least, you could join them on a neighborhood walk and talk to members about their experience. Is your area listed above? Then, why haven't you joined?
We communicate with other watch groups in the surrounding subdivisions. They all experience the same types of crime that we do. We all realize that crime is not exclusive to any one neighborhood or block. Recently, our group partnered with several other watch groups to hold a winter clothing drive. We collected coats, hats, gloves and sweaters to benefit local organizations. Our ability to reach beyond our own neighborhoods is amazing and we're brainstorming future events.
These dedicated individuals make doing what I (we) do a whole lot more fun, and help me realize that neighborhood watch isn't just about "neighborhood". It's about COMMUNITY.
So, is it worth it? Absolutely.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Have a fun, healthy and safe holiday.
(Coming soon...Holiday safety and survival tips)