08/07/08 — On active watch: Alert neighborhoods can stop crime from taking root

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On active watch: Alert neighborhoods can stop crime from taking root

National Night Out was not just a chance for the law enforcement communities in Goldsboro, Mount Olive and Fremont to introduce themselves.

The events, which are part of a national campaign, were designed to make communities even more conscious of their role in keeping their neighborhoods safe.

So while the festivities and the fellowship might have been the draw, the lesson is even more important.

Several local communities have already taken their role in preventing crime as a new mission, establishing neighborhood watch programs and other opportunities for ordinary people to become crime-preventers.

And that really is the key to cutting back on not only the number of petty crimes and break-ins, but to sending a get-out-of-town message to more serious offenders as well.

A community where there is an active neighborhood watch is a place where criminals who thrive on anonymity and secret dealings will think twice about choosing for a business location. After all, if there is someone watching, it is much more difficult to do business without arousing suspicion.

Neighborhood watch programs are not just effective in rich neighborhoods, either. All it takes to make one work is enough people who are willing to band together to demand better for themselves and their neighbors and who are willing to work with law enforcement officials to make that happen.

National Night Out was just a first step. Stopping crime in Goldsboro, Mount Olive and Fremont will take a lot more work than just a gathering once a year.

But these communities can start with a determination to do something.

Crime is still a problem in these communities -- and local law enforcement officers are fewer in numbers and have a lot more ground to cover. The only way to stop the criminals who center in these neighborhoods is to let them know that there are eyes everywhere.

Tips to police, letting community leaders know if there is a landlord who is renting to criminals or cluing them in to criminal activity in a housing complex or other community, are critical if we are going to make a difference in the crime statistics this year.

And more importantly, reducing crime's grip on a neighborhood just might make it easier to stop youngsters from becoming victims or from following what can only be called a disastrous path themselves.

Some communities have already pledged to beat drugs, violence and theft in their neighborhoods.

Those who haven't should take National Night Out's message to heart.

Law enforcement officials cannot stop crime without you.

Published in Editorials on August 7, 2008 10:38 AM