Neighborhood Watch groups pop up all over Columbus

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  The Neighborhood Watch program is a simple concept, but it's getting community involvement that's the tough part. That's why Columbus crime organizations held an official kick-off Thursday evening at the Public Safety Building.

The Neighborhood Watch program is actually supported by the Columbus Police Department, and the Crime Prevention Board is stepping up to help get the word out. There are several things motivating this kick-off, but the driving force is simply safety in the community.

"See something, say something. If you see something that doesn't look right, pick up the phone and call somebody," Crime Prevention Director Seth Brown told News Leader Nine.

In the light of several shootings and murders in a short period of time, more Columbus residents are concerned about safety, and the Crime Prevention Director says Neighborhood Watches are becoming more popular.

The Neighborhood Watch kick-off is designed to encourage all communities to take a stand against crime.

Brown explained, "What we want to do is bring the active groups together with the inactive groups in hopes we can start the fire to bring that aspect going again."

The Brookstone subdivision is taking three major steps with their Neighborhood Watch by posting signs, installing surveillance cameras, and having officers randomly patrol the area.

"We see Neighborhood Watch as one of the pieces of the puzzle that helps us prevent crime in our neighborhood. So what we're doing is going through all the organizational Neighborhood Watch, getting block captains in place and getting people engaged in the program," said Andy Hidel, who is a member of the Brookstone Neighborhood Watch.

And one community that is reinstating their program is the East Highland area. Neighborhood Watch member for that area, Doug McLeod said, "We're just very grateful that people are now coming out and wanting to ban together, whether it's Columbus Against Drugs or East Highland Neighborhood Watch, just working together to try to rid the area of this tremendous upheaval that's taken place."

Brown wants to make sure this new movement doesn't get forgotten, "You turn the light on and the cockroaches run. The light is on crime at this point and as soon as we cut that light out or we get apathetic or complacent, the cockroaches will start right back up, we'll have issues again."

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