East Alabama residents help fight crime through social media

(WTVM) - More than 8,000 other residents of Lee and Russell counties are part of one of the largest neighborhood watch groups on Facebook.

The group creator, Eric Woodson, and six of his friends became concerned about crime in their area and thought of a way to link neighborhoods together through the social media site.

One year later, they are over 8,000 members strong.

"We got together and said we need to bring back this whole neighborhood watch concept. We need neighbors watching out for neighbors, not being afraid to ask questions when you see something strange or suspicious in your neighborhood," explains Woodson.

The group gives tips on recent crimes on a daily basis.

Woodson says he has seen an increase of awareness in citizens, and even law enforcement has taken a close look at this program.

"It is a big information sharing network. It's a clear house for information," Woodson said. "Law enforcement is taking a look at what we're talking about, they're sharing information with us, we're sharing information with them."

This watch group goes beyond crime fighting and also reaches out to help those neighbors in need. For example, when fires recently struck in the Beauregard area, the website reached out for donations for the family who lost everything.

"At a time at the holiday season when people have lost everything, people are giving from the heart and it's just another aspect of the page," said Woodson.

This Facebook page has inspired individual neighborhoods to come together and create their own community watch page, for example, the residents of the Meadowood subdivision.

Adriane Salmi created the page for Meadowood and believes it has been a great way to bring her own neighbors together.

"I thought it would be a good idea to try and connect the community and relay information when something is going on. Everybody is checking on everybody so it's been a great help," explains Salmi.

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