About 70 at Midland N-Watch meeting

       Close to 70 Midland-area residents attended a Neighborhood Watch meeting Nov. 15. There was a great deal of interest, but no group or groups seem to have formed yet. Police Officer Bob Harris, the Neighborhood Watch contact for the Gold Hill substation, said Midland as a whole (which is basically bordered by Highway 24, 31st Street, Busch Avenue and 21st Street) is too large for one group. “The coordination breaks down and it just doesn't work,” he said.
       However, based on the turnout, he said he thought “six or seven” Watches could be formed. If that happened, “it would be great,” he said.
       Many people at the meeting signed in with their name, address and phone number. One of the attendees, Sara Chermack, volunteered to use a computer program to sort people by location and she was working on this effort with meeting organizer Hope Fonseca this week.
       The next step will be to find “captains” for each Watch, who would communicate with the residents in their area as well as with Harris.
       Fonseca said afterward she was reasonably pleased with how the meeting went. She had set up the meeting with her daughter-in-law, Stephanie Sifford, based on concerns that their own part of the Midland area is experiencing more crime, and she would like to get a Watch program going soon.
       A Neighborhood Watch is a proactive way for residents, typically in one- or two-block areas of 10 to 12 homes, to work together to look out for crime, Harris said. Although police prefer to have at least 80 percent of the residents participating, a Watch area can work with as few as 50 percent, he said, in answer to a question.
       During the meeting, Harris also answered questions from different Midland residents about various crime problems in their neighborhoods, including a possible burglary ring (call police next time you see something, Harris said), criminal juveniles not being prosecuted (police share that frustration), obscene grafitti in Bott Park (report it to police so a cleanup crew can be sent out) and the extent of the Make My Day law (you can defend yourself with a weapon in your home or someone else's).

Westside Pioneer article