Neighbors Surprised to Find Crime Watch Program on Their Street
COLUMBIA - A black and orange sign that says "our neighbors are watching" is posted on the corner of Blue Ridge and Greenridge Roads. But few neighbors have noticed.
"I've lived here since 1999 and that sign has been there since before then. I don't know anything about neighborhood watch," said one neighbor.
The people who live in the house where the sign sits in the front yard, didn't even know the sign was there.
The head of neighborhood response for the Columbia Police Department said, "When 50% of the neighbors are trained on the crime watch program then the city police department will put a sign in that neighborhood."
Officer Melvin Buckner said there's been a lack of activity in the program, which started in the 1970s, and the sign at Greenridge Road is probably from many years ago.
Although there is no official neighborhood watch, Doug Brown, one of the neighborhood's youngest residents, is known on the street as the lookout.
"I just sit on my porch and I watch people walk by. A lot of times they'll come up and sit with me for a while," Brown said. "If there's something that's broken at their house they'll say ‘hey can you come fix this for me?'"
It has been ten years since Brown and his wife, Sarah, moved into the neighborhood.
"I knew about the sign but I don't know anything about the program being on this street," she said.
She said she has wanted to get a neighborhood watch program started on the street for a few years.
"We've had some issues in the past of people coming up from surrounding neighborhoods. We've had shootings and pit bulls roaming, sometimes even biting people," she said.
A board of volunteers runs the Columbia neighborhood watch program. Buckner said, "The board is made up of eight seats but right now only five are filled, so they need help."
For people wanting to become an official member of the Columbia, Missouri Neighborhood Watch there are training courses that teach residents how to keep an eye out for crime and what to do if they see suspicious activity.
The next training session for this year is November 12, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at Shepard Boulevard Elementary.