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Culture

The Neighborhood Watch: Revived

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In the wake of the national controversy, police departments around the country are taking a closer look at their own neighborhood watch programs. In Springfield, the police department has been taking an even more active approach. Springfield PD leaders have been reviving the neighborhood watch program, training new block captains, and reintroducing basic techniques to volunteers. In many cases, they’re tearing down old rusty neighborhood watch signs, and starting from scratch.

Cpl. Matt Brown is the spokesman for the Springfield Police Department.  According to Brown, two officers who work closely with the community felt that a change was necessary.

 “Their decision was to come up with a new neighborhood watch program that gets the citizens more invested and working more with the police department than they ever had before, through a lot of various means and training.”

Brown says the new two day training seminars have had a high turnout. He explains the approach the volunteers learn during the seminars.

 “We tell them the options and then we allow them to make the decisions, however the first choice is always watch, observe, and report, not interact. We don’t want them interacting with the criminals at all. We would rather we take on that hazard and liability on us. We’re trained for that, it’s what we do every single day, but they’re not. We want them to report.”

Volunteers do get trained, though, on good reporting during their two day seminar. Brown explains how they learn to watch for specific indicators of criminal activity, and to record details that will help officers during their investigation.

The ongoing Trayvon Martin investigation remains a focus of controversy and tension on the national level. While Brown declined to comment on the specifics of the case, he says it’s causing police departments to reflect on how they use citizen reports.  

 “It’s certainly a case that all law enforcement agencies across the US felt the impact of and I think that more than anything, it solidifies why we do what we do. We don’t want there to be any second guessing of what we ask our citizens to do. Here at the Springfield PD, we’re very comfortable in telling our citizens to just watch, observe, and report.”

For more information on Neighborhood Watch programs in Springfield, a link is provided with this story on our website, KSMU.org.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.

http://www.springfieldmo.gov/spd/GeneralInfo/NeighborhoodWatch/whatis.html