The city of Russellville is thinking about revitalizing the Neighborhood Watch Program if they find there is enough interest by citizens to do so. The city once had a Watch several years ago, some signs are still standing in remembrance of the once supported initiative throughout the city.
A Neighborhood Watch is a program of systematic local vigilance by residents of a neighborhood to discourage crime. The Watch would be organized and implemented in conjunction with the Russellville City Police Department. Meetings would be held with interested citizens and plans would be put in place to deter crime.
The Resurrection of the program has been talked about for a couple of years, said the city’s police chief Victor Shifflett. Russellville Mayor Mark Stratton spoke with Shifflett and they both would like to see what kind of interest there is throughout the city before bringing the program back. One of the things kicked around is possibly putting a survey on the city’s website to help find interest.
“It may not be as full blown as it was in the 90s, but I think it will stir some interest back up,” said Stratton. “Sometimes you need stuff like this revitalization just to get people’s awareness back. This is not intended for meddling in other people’s business, but just for keeping an eye on people’s property when their gone.”
Shifflett said it would probably be beneficial to follow the motto Bowling Green has, because it has been awhile since the city of Russellville has had anything to do with theirs.
“It’s a pretty standard program. We would have to go out into all the neighborhoods to see what kind of interest we had in it. If you don’t have a lot of interest in it in the neighborhoods, its probably not going to be worthwhile doing,” said Shifflett, who wants to involve both WRUS and the News-Democrat & Leader in helping to get the word out.
The chief said the police department is starting a Facebook page. He added that it seems to be the best way to get things out to the public anymore, as bad as he hated to say it. “But it’s the easiest and quickest way to get it out to a lot of people, Shifflett said.
“The program itself, we don’t mind doing it,” said Shifflett. “We’d be glad to do it for us as officers, because it gets us back into contact with the community on more of a personal basis. A lot of people in the neighborhoods don’t have any contact with the police unless they see us ride around the square, or if they are involved in a wreck or something. We have very little contact with the majority of the citizens and this will put us back in contact with the regular public, plus it builds that relationship back up, which is always good for us. It kind of gets people back into the thinking that if something doesn’t seem right, they need to give us a call. It doesn’t hurt, you never know.”
Shifflett said the police department already had a program that citizens use where when they go on vacation the police keep a check on their residence. “We have a certain group of people that use it all the time, but it’s a small number. I wish more people used it, it’s a good tool and it’s free,” said the chief.
In the meetings that would be held for the Watch Program, citizens would be given effective crime prevention tips. These would be reminders and common sense stuff, said Shifflett. “When you’re not a victim of crime, you don’t think about it, and let your guard down, and that’s when something happens. This would be a reminder to everyone to be diligent in what goes on in their respective neighborhoods.”
Councilman Bill Decker said the one thing this program does is brings people back together to watch your property. plus you get to know your neighbors a little better. “This will maybe be a deterrent itself to know someone is watching. Even speeding in a neighborhood is a danger. Anything you can do to make your neighborhood safer,” said Decker.
“I think it would be worth trying.,” said Shifflett.
Councilwoman Pat Bell remembered being involved in the program when it was up and running in the past. “I think it’s a real good program. I think it will bring awareness,” said Bell.
If you are interested in the formation of a Neighborhood Watch Program in the City of Russellville, please call either City Hall at 270-726-5000 or the Russellville Police Department at 270-726-7669.