Columbia Residents Train to Protect Their Neighborhoods

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COLUMBIA - Columbia residents gathered Wednesday night for the first neighborhood watch training session of 2014.

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Residents met with the Neighborhood Watch of Columbia and an officer from the Columbia Police Department to learn why neighborhood watches are important and how they can help prevent crime.

"We share with the residents the crime trends we are seeing in the area, we will talk about ways to prevent and harden the target some, we will answer any questions people have and dispel any myths that are out there," Columbia Police Department officer Melvin Buckner said.

Since January 1, until 3 p.m. on April 9, the Columbia Police Department had received 67,991 9-1-1 calls and 3,788 police reports. Officer Buckner said there could be up to 4 calls pending at one time, which means there are not enough officers on duty to take all four of the calls at that time.

Neighborhood watch groups can help act as the eyes and ears for the police department of that neighborhood and help make reports when necessary.

Each neighborhood watch has one captain that will host meetings, give the neighborhood information, and act as a liaison between the residents and the police.

The most common type of home intrusion occurs with no forced entry. With these statics, the Columbia Neighborhood Watch says education could sometime be the best type of crime prevention.

For a neighborhood to receive an official neighborhood watch association they must have one captain and 50 percent of the neighborhood must be trained. Training sessions like the one Wednesday, offer opportunities for residents to get trained and establish a possible neighborhood watch group in their neighborhood.

"I am here to get information and work with my neighbors in the neighborhood to get informed," Columbia resident Juan Cortez said.

The dates for future training sessions are posted on the Columbia Neighborhood Watch website.