Canal Winchester is "looking for a few good citizens" to help keep the village safe by becoming members of a new Community Watch Program instituted by Mayor Mike Ebert.
Ebert introduced the program, an all-volunteer Crime Watch endeavor held in partnership with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s office, to Canal Winchester Village Council during its Jan. 22 meeting.
Ebert said the cost to the village is zero. Anyone interested in becoming a member must fill out an application form and undergo a background check by the sheriff’s department.
"We have already received interest from village residents who would like to be volunteers," said Ebert.
Volunteers attend a 40-hour training course in the classroom and on the streets, wear specially-designed clothing, and patrol in a cruiser provided by the village and sheriff’s office. They are responsible for filling out reports and turning in paperwork at the end of their shift, maintaining equipment, and maintaining physical ability and appearance in conformity with sheriff office standards.
According to Sheriff Dave Phalen, a volunteer’s job function is to patrol a designated area and observe any suspicious occurrences, people, or objects and check closed buildings upon request.
"(Volunteers) perform routine house checks of closed homes-when requested-and report any unusual occurrences," stated Phalen in an informational letter to applicants. "Over 100,000 members from communities currently help law enforcement keep their neighborhoods safe by volunteering as a part of various Community Watch Programs.
"Each volunteer will receive training, clothing, and guidance from the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office to ensure that this program succeeds in helping eliminate crime from your neighborhoods. Each volunteer will be supervised by a sworn law enforcement liaison officer who will monitor the performance of patrols under their jurisdiction."
Phalen said the program is an effective approach to residential safety, awareness, and involvement and serves as a strong deterrent against unlawful actions of potential criminals. Credit for the reduction of crime rates is attributed to the presence of the mobile watch program on the streets of participating neighborhoods, in addition to the continued vigilance of individual patrol members.
"The program is still in its infant stages," reported Sgt. K.C. Kern, "and we’re trying to build it. We want to get people to patrol the area where they live within the village limits and Fairfield County. We have applications available at the (Canal Winchester municipal building, 36 S. High St.). The number of hours volunteers serve per month is yet to be determined, but the class will start in May in Lancaster."