City offers information on starting Neighborhood Watch groups

Richard R. Barron/The Ada NewsAda Assistant Police Chief Maj. Tracy Jackson speaks at a meeting Thursday at the Chickasaw Community Center for people interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch program in their neighborhood.

After someone broke into her mother’s house for the third time, Amanda Laurie decided to take steps to reduce crime in her neighborhood.

“Neighbors need to get involved, because it’s just getting too much,” she said.

The Ada woman and her neighbor, Sue Harmon, attended a Neighborhood Watch meeting Thursday because they wanted to make their part of town safer. The city of Ada hosted the meeting at the Chickasaw Community Center, which offered people tips for starting a Neighborhood Watch group in their area.

Neighborhood Watch serves as the eyes and ears for the Ada Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, said Assistant Police Chief Maj. Tracy Jackson.

“We can’t be everywhere all the time,” he said. “That’s why it’s important for us to work together, and what we do is help you.”

Jackson offered the following tips for running a Neighborhood Watch group, which brings residents and law enforcement agencies together to discourage crime and make neighborhoods safer:

• Understand that the group requires motivation and commitment, and don’t be offended if some your neighbors aren’t interested in participating.

• Invite law enforcement agencies to the group’s meetings.

• Take detailed notes on any suspicious activity in the area, especially if it occurs over and over. Those notes should include the date and time of the incident, a description of the people involved and information about their vehicle.

• Notify the group’s spokesperson about the incident he or she can contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Jackson said people who live in Byng, Latta or other towns can form their own Neighborhood Watch groups.

Ada Police Capt. Jason Potter said Ada has two active  groups, and their biggest hurdle in the beginning was realizing that solving their area’s problems will take time.

“You’re not going to be able to say, ‘That’s a drug house,’” he said. “You’re not going to be able to go kick the door in and take everybody to jail. We have rules and regulations that we have to follow.”

Heath Miller of the District 22 Drug Task Force said people interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch group should get the ball rolling before their part of town starts experiencing problems. He added that people who participate in those groups can play key roles in reducing crime in their area.

“You know your neighborhood better than any of us,” he said. 

Following the meeting, Laurie said she was planning to start a group for her area.

“Absolutely,” she said.

City offiicials will keep a list of Neighborhood Watch groups and their spokespeople, which list will make it easier for the groups to communicate with the city when necessary.  The city will also provide free Neighborhood Watch signs and post them in participating neighborhoods.

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Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.