Guest Column: Blockwatch Beat

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Why is a blockwatch or community policing important? Why should be we involved in our neighborhood?

Getting to know the community as a whole and being active in the neighborhood is very important to the health and well-being of the area in which you live. The Town Meeting called by Police Chief Jackson at the Police Academy on Hague Avenue Oct. 23 was a long overdue gathering of the city’s police force and residents.  

It exemplified the need for communities to work together to fight crime and create relationships. There were active blockwatches, Civic Groups, Commission Members, you name it, who showed up to voice concern about crime in the city.  There were also accolades as the officers do the best job that they can do with the resources they have and we recognize that.  

These groups are successful in trying to turn around areas in the city like Old Towne East and Parsons Avenue because they band together and fight the good fight.  Just ask Cindy Anderson, who started one of the Westside’s first blockwatches over 25 years ago. She routinely had 300 people at meetings – concerned residents who worked together to make their neighborhood a better place to live and at the time, she succeeded.  

A blockwatch is important as it is a way to watch out for one another, to get to know your neighborhood and most importantly, forge relationships. Even though we have computers, television, iPods, you name, it in technogear, we are becoming increasingly isolated as a society.

Come to a blockwatch meeting and participate in the community and find out how enjoyable it is to give back to the neighborhood in which you live. We may not have high crime rates here or the problems that the east side has, but before you know it, apathy and the inexorable march of criminals looking for new territory may bring that here. Are we ready? Do we subscribe to the broken windows theory and report all the little stuff? Are we willing to “snitch” and make a report and talk to the police?  Are we willing to work with neighbors, sometimes people that we don’t like all that well, in order to fight crime and make our area a wonderful place to live?

Chuck Patterson, a Greater Hilltop Area Commission member, moved into Westgate over the summer. It was his dream to live here. Many others have that dream as we have an awesome, one-of-a-kind community. We must work together to keep it that way! And we have to reach out a hand to the whole of the Westside to keep it healthy and vibrant; a wonderful place to live and start a new business.  

How many of you frequent the wonderful Hispanic restaurants?  Or the bakery on Sullivant? Or even the Hilltop MarketPlace, whose demise we should all mourn?  

The change starts in the home, talking about how we can make a difference with our children. Why picking up that piece of trash and throwing it in the trash can is important. The change moves outside our home when we join community groups, attend blockwatch meetings and work to help others less fortunate. It goes beyond our borders when we reach out to the “least of these” and give selflessly in acts of charity.   

And the eternal question: Why should I clean up someone’s piece of trash? Who isn’t sick of it? You do it because it is the right thing to do. To take pride in where we live, we have to stop waiting for the city or a government agency to take care of things! Get out there and clean it up and sooner rather than later, people will notice and a difference will be made.  

Only together can we continue to make the Westside, the best side.

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