Sunday, June 29, 2008

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH STRUCTURE COMING TOGETHER

According to what I've read, the basic recommended structure of a neighborhood watch is a "watch captain" at the top, "block captains" for each street (preferably 1 block captain for every 10 houses) , and "members." The members report suspicious or criminal activity to the police and to their block captain. The block captain passes that info to the other members and keeps members on his/her block informed of neighborhood events, etc. We've added an extra dimension in our particular organization in that we're also getting contact info from those who want to be kept informed but don't want to be members of the watch. The block captains will keep all non watch members on their contact list up-to-date. The block captains also pass along info to the watch captain. The watch captain acts as a liaison between the group and the police and attends the monthly Eastern Division Advisory Board meetings (Greensboro Police Dept).

If you are interested in being part of the leadership end of our new organization, check out the guide for Starting a Community Watch. To download the pdf go to: http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/8007DC36-0E8B-4ECE-9FC1-D5B51D8D46D5/0/communitywatch_startpacket.pdf.

Joan got the ball rolling by organizing the first two meetings. I'd say she has more than achieved her goal of getting a neighborhood watch group started. She's also been doing a lot of the heavy lifting on our way to our second goal, the community watch signs (which requires a third meeting). Concurrently, a bunch of us have jumped in and begun the work of getting block captains in place on each street, our third goal. The fourth goal is getting contact info for all residents that want to be kept informed of neighborhood events, etc. After that, we just struggle along until we become a well-oiled machine: )

Although we appear somewhat disorganized at times, I think we've managed to accomplish quite a bit. Still, I think we might want to try to tighten up the communication between the block captains and the loose group of initial organizers. I will suggest at the Monday meeting that all volunteer block captains stay for a few minutes after the main meeting, group ourselves by street, and exchange contact info. We can then start coordinating our efforts by street and making sure our current watch captain (Joan) is kept up-to-date about what's being done on each block. If all the block captains have internet access, I suggest that we use the Forum on the DDLP website to exchange info and ideas. That way we can transmit info quickly among ourselves but also keep the process transparent and open for everyone.

If you want to continue this dialog go to http://www.theddlp.com/forums/ and reply on the "Block Captains" thread where the bulk of this post is repeated.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Neighborhood Watch Meeting - Monday June 30

"Home Security" will be the topic at the next Neighborhood Watch meeting on Monday June 30. The event will get started at 6:30 pm at the Lawndale Swim & Tennis Club on Keats Place. Greensboro Police Officer Scott Miller will the featured speaker. Light refreshments will be served. The last meetings have been standing room only, so you may want to bring along a folding chair.

This is the second of the three community watch meetings that are required in order to get "watch" signs put up in the neighborhood. Attendance at these next two meetings must be at least 61% of the DDLP Neighborhood Watch membership. We currently have about 77 households signed up, which means we need to have over 46 attendees at the June 30 meeting. So mark your calendars, spread the word, and join us next Monday for what is sure to be an informative and interesting meeting.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Requirements For A Startup Neighborhood Watch Group

I have been a little confused since we first started organizing the DDLP Neighborhood Watch about what we HAVE to do to be recognized as an official group. I think I’ve got it broken down into manageable chunks of information and I thought I’d pass them along.

This is what we HAVE to do in order to get the city to install and maintain “official” community watch signs along our streets:

1) Generate a list of members* for the neighborhood watch organization;
2) Conduct 3 consecutive meetings that are attended by at least 61% of the members;
3) Participate in the National Night Out in August of each year;
4) Organize an open community meeting in February of each year;
5) Send a representative of the organization to monthly meetings with the Eastern Division Advisory Board;

*Members agree to:
1) act as the eyes and ears of the neighborhood;
2) report unusual activity to the police and the block captain;
3) report suspicious vehicles and people to the police and the block captain.

We’ve already got quite a bit of the required work done. We’ve got a membership list of 77 households. Almost 100 people attended the first meeting at the Lawndale Swim & Tennis Club. We need 47 households (or 61 people depending how you’re counting the members) at the next two meetings. That’s the hard part. Then we’ll need a volunteer to represent the group each month at the Eastern Division Advisory Board meetings. Beyond that we only have two neighborhood functions to organize each year. That’s what we HAVE to do.

There are lots of things we WANT to do and we’re getting that started too. We’ve got block captains who have volunteered to get the word out to their neighbors about the new organization. They will sign up new members and also get contact information for those folks who don’t want to join but still want to be kept informed about news and events in the neighborhood. Once we get the organization set up and running, we can start focusing on ways to make this neighborhood safer.

OK now, that’s what I think I know. But like I said, I was a little confused, so please correct me if I’m wrong about any of this. Or if you just plain disagree with me, well that’s something to talk about too.

Summary of the Recent Block Captains Meeting

Seven block captains for the fledgling DDLP Neighborhood Watch met Sunday at the Lawndale Swim & Tennis Club to organize the neighborhood watch signup sheets, plan the next community meeting, and discuss participation in the upcoming National Night Out which is sponsored locally by the Greensboro Police Department.

There has been a fantastic turnout at both the organizational meeting and the first official meeting of the DDLP Neighborhood Watch. To date 77 households have joined the new organization. That's almost a quarter of the entire neighborhood. Currently Lenox Court and Normandy Road have the highest percentage of member residents. Trenton Road has no members yet, but that should change in the upcoming weeks when block captains start reaching out to their neighbors. Our goal is to find ways to keep every interested resident informed about community issues and events.

The next full meeting of the DDLP Neighborhood Watch has not been determined yet, but there are plans in the works for this neighborhood's participation in the National Night Out on Tuesday August 5. It is hoped that 100% of the DDLP will join in by turning on their outdoor lights. It would also be really cool if folks could spend the early evening hours outside having “front porch” vigils or taking a stroll down their street. The DDLP block captains are looking into the feasibility of hosting a block party in our neighborhood that night. More information about future events in the DDLP will be passed along through the neighborhood email system, phone trees, the Blog, and the Forums.

More information about National Night Out:
http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/departments/Police/citizens/nno.htm
http://www.nationalnightout.org/nno/about.html

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Vehicles Targeted in Recent Larcenies

According to unofficial neighborhood sources, two larcenies involving parked vehicles occurred last night in separate incidents. Both occurred in the vicinity of Wilshire Drive. One car was unlocked and the perpetrator(s) evidently went through the car taking everything out of the glove box, but not removing any property from the vehicle. The other vehicle had property taken from the trunk.

The P2C website has only one incident report for June posted; a larceny on Pershing Court that occurred on June 14.

Some suggestions for prevention of larcenies: lock your vehicles; don't leave items of interest to a thief in view from outside the vehicle; and remove such items from vehicle pick-up beds.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Land Grant Winner!

Congratulations to Piedmont Regional Greenway, Winner of $3,000 Land Grant sponsored by Patagonia and Great Outdoor Provision Co.

When the "polls" closed at 12 noon June 6th, Piedmont Regional Greenway was the winner of the $3000 grant from Patagonia. Thanks to all geocachers who participated in the 2008 "Vote for Land" event. Over 12,000 people participated in the voting. The votes cast produced the following results:

The Piedmont Regional Greenway - 4003
Rocky Fork - 3806
Pond Mountain - 2750
The Terra Nova Center - 879
Town Creek Riparian Forest - 487
Tar River Paddle Trail - 476
First Island, Deep River - 324

May Crime Summary

2 Burglaries: Dublin (1), Normandy (1)
1 Larceny: Lawndale Swim & Tennis Club
1 Act of Vandalism (Auto): Normandy

There have been no incident reports put on the Police to Citizen (P2C) website for June.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Neighborhood Watch Meeting - Tuesday June 3

There was standing room only at the Neighborhood Watch meeting last night at the Lawndale Swim & Tennis Clubhouse. Well over 50 people from all parts of the DDLP* neighborhood came to listen and talk to a Community Resource Team Officer from the Greensboro Police Department. Officer Scott Miller, a veteran on the police force with over 14 years as a patrol officer, has been conducting and attending community watch meetings for three years. He attends eight to ten community watch meetings each month and he said Tuesday’s meeting of concerned citizens from the DDLP was the biggest group he’s ever spoken to. Officer Miller talked to the crowd and crime prevention, and he answered questions from the audience. After the meeting, Joan Johnson, the organizational force behind this Neighborhood Watch effort, was ready with sign up sheets for each street in the DDLP, taking names and contact information from participants and those volunteering to act as block captains.

Officer Miller didn’t have to belabor the point that the day of the beat cop is long gone. Its replacement is community based policing. The city has been sectioned into four districts by the Patrol Bureau of the Greensboro Police Department and each has its own Community Resource Team (CRT). The DDLP is in the Eastern District. The Eastern District is currently without its own CRT as those officers were recently assigned to work on the gang problem in Greensboro. Officer Miller, part of the CRT in the Southern District, will fill in as our CRT until the Eastern District’s own CRT is restored. But the shortage of officers is bound to continue in a city struggling with budget problems, and ultimately it is community organizations like Neighborhood Watch that can make a real difference in crime prevention and prosecution.

Officer Miller pointed out that our perception about the crime rate may be part of the problem when trying to come up with a response to crime in our neighborhood. Media crime reports are often the cause of misperceptions. Crime is up overall in Greensboro, and although the recent surge of burglaries in the DDLP is troubling, there are some neighborhoods with much more serious problems. To put it into perspective, Officer Miller said that when an officer comes on duty, he or she will have 35 to 40 service complaints to look into. This is in addition to answering calls when a crime is in progress which is the officer’s first priority. Crimes such as the recent burglaries on Normandy Road are second priority. They are crimes that are no longer in progress. The victim comes home at 5pm to discover the burglary. He or she is not in any immediate danger and the “bad guys” are gone. In these cases, regrettably, it may take two hours to get an officer on the scene. This is in large part due to the fact that the Greensboro Police Department is currently understaffed. Officer Miller mentioned that some officers work through their breaks in an effort to answer their service complaints.

And that is where A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Vigilant neighbors, particularly retirees, can look out for their neighbor’s property during the day and call the police if they witness something criminal or suspicious. A key point that Officer Miller repeated throughout the evening was the importance of having as much detailed information as possible when calling the police. He was quick to dissuade anyone from running behind a getaway car to get a license plate number, but he reminded the audience that a good description or photos of a suspect or their vehicle is what is needed. He suggested keeping a pair of binoculars handy. Being part of a crime prevention program is easy: LISTEN; WATCH; KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS.

One way to get things done in our neighborhood is to attend city council meetings as a group. Officer Miller suggested that we pick one articulate individual to speak at the meetings and to keep the focus on a single issue at any given meeting. Another way to get things done in our neighborhood is exactly what we’re already doing. We need to have a high turn out at the next two neighborhood watch organizational meetings. After that, we need a continual turn out at the regular neighborhood watch meetings. If we can do that, then the city will post some “official” Neighborhood Watch signs in the DDLP. More important than the signs is the community that we are building, neighbor to neighbor, block to block, subdivision to subdivision. We can, as a community, help prevent and prosecute crime in our “Hood.”

___________________________

Q: How can I tell if someone or something is suspicious enough to warrant calling the police?
A: Get to know your neighbors. Know the cars they drive, their habits, the friends and family who visit them. Once you get to know your neighborhood, you will have a better idea of what is out of the ordinary and what is normal.

Q: The police came out when I called about a possible problem but no incident was posted on the P2C website. Don’t they write up a report every time they investigate a complaint?
A: If no complaint or arrest was made and the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of the officer, a report will not be posted on the P2C website.

Q: If I see someone suspicious walking down the street, is it legal for me to take a picture of them without their permission?
A: If they are on a public street, they have no expectation of privacy, and it is legal for you to photograph them.

Q: What can I do when I’m out of town to protect my house?
A: Have a neighbor pick up your newspapers and your mail. While you are away, ask someone to walk the perimeter of your property while you are looking for broken glass or other indications that someone has entered your house unlawfully.

Q: How can I find out about crime statistics for my neighborhood?
A: Call Crime Analysis at 574-4035 and ask to speak to Philice Foddrell. Tell her you live in Zone 440, Track 171 and want to know what crimes have been committed in this part of Greensboro.

Q: I’ve got a glass door. What can I do to stop someone from breaking into my home?
A: Double cylinder dead bolt locks can help, but you MUST be able to access a key from INSIDE in case of fire or other emergency that requires a quick exit.

Q: What can I do about those pesky solicitors that plague our neighborhood from time to time?
A: Ask to see their license. Ask them to leave.

Q: Are solicitors required to have a picture I.D.?
A: No. But you can ask them to produce a solicitation license. Some solicitors do have picture I.D.s because the organization they represent requires them to have picture I.D.s.

Q: What can I do to get rid of solicitors?
A: Don’t answer the door. You can also post a sign that says “No Solicitations.” Or, you discourage them by asking to see their license. Most solicitors that are selling something are required to carry a license and must produce it upon request. If they become belligerent, abusive, or won’t leave when you ask them to, call the Greensboro Police Department. (Keep in mind that some solicitors are not required to have a license, such as those associated with religious organizations.)

Q: Is there another phone number I can call besides 9-1-1 if I see something suspicious but I’m not sure it’s an emergency?
A: 373-2222. This is the nonemergency, automated system that was put in when 9-1-1 couldn’t answer all the calls that were coming in. It is for nonemergency situations that require police involvement. (To bypass most of the automation, choose option “3.”)
__________________________

*DDLP stands for the folks in the Dellwood Park, Dogwood Forest, Lawndale Homes, and Pershing Court subdivisions who have been meeting formally and informally for years. We are a unique area with common interests that lies south of Pisgah Church Road, east of Lawndale Drive, north of Cone Boulevard, and west of the higher rent district : )

Copperhead mating season in The DDLP


Well, it's that time of year again.

Tonite after supper I spotted one of our cats, Satchiananda (Satchi) batting her paws at a pile of leaves on the neighbors back porch area.

I grabbed a torch and shined it onto the beady eyes of an adolescent Copperhead snake.

It was about 3 feet in length...pretty good size for a Copperhead at this point in the season.

I'm pretty freaked out by snakes so after we got Satchi in the house, we proceeded to develop a murderous plot for the venomous beast.

Thanks to Delmois, Hester and Lois for the concerted effort to kill the Copperhead.

Please note that the Copperhead is the only venomous snake in this section of North Carolina.

Also, the Copperhead is a non-aggressive snake and easily recognizable. It basically has a round, stout brown body with darker hour-glass shaped bands running evenly across the body. And, Yup, it's got a V-shaped head so it looks pretty nasty.

Be careful and be discriminate. Let the other snakes do their thing. We feel that it is simply a necessary step to take with the killing of a venomous snake due to our pets.

Here's what I hope to be the only annual 2008 "Copperhead in The DDLP" shot that I post. *Remember that we spotted a juvenile in the middle of the street one nite last year.

Tuesday Neighborhood Watch Meeting Was A Success!

There was standing room only at the Neighborhood Watch meeting last night at the Lawndale Swim & Tennis Clubhouse. Well over 50 people from all parts of the DDLP neighborhood came to listen and talk to a Community Resource Team (CRT) Officer from the Greensboro Police Department. Officer Scott Miller, a veteran on the police force with over 14 years as a patrol officer, has been conducting and attending community watch meetings for three years, and he said Tuesday's meeting was the biggest group he's ever spoken to. Officer Miller talked to the crowd and crime prevention, and he answered questions from the audience. After the meeting, Joan Johnson, the organizational force behind this Neighborhood Watch effort, was ready with sign up sheets for each street in the DDLP, taking names and contact information from participants and those volunteering to act as block captains.

[That's the basic who/what/where/why/when. The rest of the story will be posted as soon as I can distill my notes into something readable.-hester]

Monday, June 2, 2008

Land Trust Competition

Cast your vote & help save a natural place in North Carolina. The Great Outdoor Provision Co. will present a $3000 Land Grant from Patagonia to the land trust project that gets the most votes.

They all seem like worthy projects, but if you want to direct the money towards a project in our part of North Carolina, vote for the Piedmont Regional Greenway.

It will be a 19-mile, multi-use trail connecting Guilford and Forsyth counties through Triad Regional Park and downtown Kernersville. The trail will follow waterways, ridge tops and roadways, and will connect neighborhoods, parks, cultural and historic sites, schools, commercial districts, and natural areas. Trail use will include walking, running, jogging, bicycling and possibly horseback riding.

To cast your vote go to:
http://greatoutdoorprovision.com/culture/wesupport/patagonia-land-grant/

Votes will be accepted until 12 noon on Friday, June 6th.

National Land Trust Day is Saturday June 7.