By BRITTANY DUNCAN
Residents from across Columbia gathered at Shepard Boulevard Elementary Thursday evening for Neighborhood Watch Training.
Neighborhood Watch is a national program that brings together community members and law enforcement authorities to protect homes and prevent crime.
The training was divided into three segments. Cynthia Crowe, an officer from the Columbia Police Department, briefed the audience during the first segment on simply being aware.
“Our job is to engage criminals or suspicious persons,” she said. “No one expects you folks to engage a criminal.”
Crowe advised the audience to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. If community members notice something out of the ordinary, she wants them to “observe, record and report.”
Residents headed out of town were also encouraged to request a “watch in passing” from the Columbia Police Department, which periodically sends officers to keep an eye on unoccupied houses. Crowe said residents could request this service at the police station or by calling the station’s non-emergency number at (573) 442-6131.
Knowing neighbors’ schedules, observing their own neighborhoods and keeping houses locked were other tips Crowe offered community members.
The second segment of the training featured a video on the Columbia Neighborhood Watch Program. The video showed the history of the local program and provided information on protecting residents’ homes and vehicles.
Installing motion-sensitive lighting near doors, covering up valuables in cars and making an inventory of personal property were among the tips given in the film.
The training concluded with information on initiating neighborhood watch programs.
David Harris, a resident of the West Pointe subdivision, gave his thoughts on the training and its importance for Columbia residents.
“Sometimes I think we get intimidated when we hear that crime happens,” he said. “I think [Neighborhood Watch] is a good way to communicate with neighbors about how to deal with crime.”
For information on beginning a Neighborhood Watch program in your area, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.