Neighborhood Watch Being Praised

Neighborhood Watch groups in Meridian are being credited with at least some of the drop in crime. Compared to November 2012 and December 2011, the number of robberies, stolen vehicles and some burlgaries were down last month. Captain Wade Johnson with the Meridian Police Department is praising the efforts of local Neighborhood Watch groups.

"I believe they have helped curb crime because with their contact with us they know what to report and the information we need to do a successful followup on the report."

Johnson says there are currently about a dozen Neighborhood Watch groups in Meridian. He says all are active. One of the largest encompasses 36th. Avenue; it average at least 30 to 40 people for each meeting.

"We don't necessarily want our Neighborhood Watch members being hands on, but we do want them to be the eyes and ears for us out on the street," says Johnson.

What's thought to be the oldest Neighborhood Watch group in Meridian includes the 65th. Avenue/Oakland Heights area. Founded in the late 1990's, Captain Johnson says the recent spike in crime led to increase interest in that Neighborhood Watch and others throughout the city.

"We're still getting calls about different people wanting to set up Neighborhood Watches in their community."

Johnson says at least one of those calls has come from an apartment complex. The Meridian Housing Authority is also making efforts to establish a Neighborhood Watch at each of its 9 sites. With the holiday season now over, Captain Johnson says it's important for Neighborhood Watch groups to stay on task.

'The Neighborhood Watch business is sort of like ebb and flow," says Johnson. "Some people will get heightened awareness during particular times and then they will let things subside with their neighborhood watch groups, but the most safe neighborhoods we've found out have Neighborhood Watch groups that keep a constant time for meeting. They meet once a month and they sit down and talk to us about what's going on in their neighborhoods.'

Johnson says at least three people are generally needed to start a Neighborhood Watch. The groups that are active meet at least once a month. An officer from the police department is usually present at the meetings. For more information on starting a Neighborhood Watch contact Captain Wade Johnson at (601) 485-1893.