To allow county neighborhood watch groups to better serve their communities and aid local law enforcement, County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt pledged support and partnership with these groups during a Friday news conference.
"It's our intention to provide training to our neighborhood watch groups. It's important that those who have volunteered their time be trained to understand how they can safely act as the eyes and ears for law enforcement," Linhardt said of the resources his office, along with local law enforcement, will provide.
Along with training, neighborhood watch groups also will receive financial support through purchases of tools and equipment they may need. Linhardt explained that his office would provide signage announcing the community group and two-way radios, along with other materials, if needed.
Above, Neighborhood Watch members and local law enforcement look on during meeting by Lycoming County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt, right, at the commissioners’ boardroom Friday.
Each group also will be assigned a law enforcement officer to partner with the group to hear concerns and tips.
"I have further committed to provide each neighborhood watch group a law enforcement liaison - a law enforcement officer assigned specifically the responsibility of supporting their neighborhood watch group, to help guide their neighborhood watch leader to make decisions that will be best for their group," Linhardt said. "To train watch leaders, block captains and members in areas ranging from setting goals to how to report suspicious activities."
"By partnering together, crime can be prevented and reduced and the overall quality of life can be improved," he later added.
Police Capt. Timothy Miller said with the help of its citizens, the city and county can truly address the "difficult challenges" it faces.
"We have to take a hard look at changing the attitude of the individuals who come here and ruin the quality of life for everyone else. This is our city. We need to have the attitude, 'This is our city. You need to be willing to live our way and if not then you need to go somewhere else,'" he said.
"We need all of you who are here as crime watch representatives, friends of yours in other neighborhoods and we need to partner in (this neighborhood watch group) effort," said County Sheriff Mark Lusk.
Linhardt said through the years neighborhood watch groups have evolved from merely looking into property crimes to planning community activities.
"Throughout the years, neighborhood watch has grown from an extra eyes and ears approach to crime prevention to a much more proactive community-oriented endeavor. Neighborhood watch groups are now incorporating activities that not only address crime-prevention issues but also activities, which restore pride and unity to a neighborhood," he said.
And although Linhardt said it would be difficult to estimate how crime has been affected in the area due to neighborhood groups, he said they are effective.
"I think it's fair to say this, neighborhoods where there's an active neighborhood watch, where you have neighbors who care, who are involved in their neighborhood, who know one another and watch out for each other, see far less crime than neighborhoods that don't," he said.