Columbia neighborhood watch still relevant in reducing crime
COLUMBIA - Columbia neighborhood watch is still relevant despite social media and sites like Nextdoor.
Neighborhood watch programs encourage residents to get trained, informed and communicate with one another to prevent crime in their community. Columbia Neighborhood Watch has been around since the 1970s and is partnered with the Columbia Police Department.
The Columbia Police Department's officer liaison Jason McClintic said there are almost 3,000 people who have been trained through the program. McClintic said the neighborhood watch focuses on personal interaction between neighbors.
"On having interaction with your neighbors not just all through technology or social media, McClintic said. "Folks want to have a person or people they can speak to when they have concerns about their safety or matters going on in their neighborhood."
Some people turn to Facebook or other sites to talk about crime, but McClintic says the neighborhood watch program provides the opportunity to dig deeper into the issues or crimes that might be reported on social media.
"The first response and the easiest response is to login and do it through social media, but I do think people lose a little bit of the reality of it when they are doing it through social media," McClintic said. "They're not getting the face to face interaction, they're not getting the nonverbal cues that you get when you have face-to-face conversations with people."
Columbia resident Don Reed said social media can be helpful when talking about crime, but said neighborhood watch is still important because of the emphasis on talking through situations with your neighbors.
"I think if you see something you can do better than just going on Facebook and saying gee-wiz I saw a car break-in, but it's too late to do anything about it now," Reed said.
Columbia neighborhood watch programs are in many different neighborhoods throughout the city.
Officer McClintic said it's hard to quantify the success of these programs, but said when people are proactive in forming neighborhood watches, he has seen crime reduced.
"I almost never see crime rise with people who become more educated and more concerned and act as a team to prevent it from continuing," McClintic said.
The next training session for Columbia Neighborhood Watch is March 17 at 7p.m. at Derby Ridge Elementary School.
To learn more about neighborhood watch, visit their website.