Guest Column: Blockwatch Beat


Westgate is the best area for bicycling and taking walks at all times of the day.  I think that we have our own bit of “The Andy Griffith Show” right here in our backyards and streets.

How many of you walk the dog and know most of the other dog owners by their dogs? How about being able to greet your neighbors over the fence? Or take your friend two streets over freshly baked cookies and sit and jaw for awhile? It is called a sense of community and we still have that in the middle of the Westside. How about being able to go for a bike ride with the children and thwart a crime? That is the best feeling of all!   

Before you start groaning about another crime report on the Westside, keep in mind that, according to Blockwatches and Officer Russell, it has been a fairly quiet summer.  Also, crime is everywhere – we are just more diligent in spotting it over here thanks to so many eyes and ears.

Back to thwarting a crime:  I learned the hard way to always, always wear pants with pockets so that a cell phone can be easily had.

The criminal being chased was a 20-something white male who was startled by our bikes and left the gate to a backyard that he was going to open. He proceeded down the alley between Westgate and Westmoor and next was seen trying to scale a fence.

I sent the children on to Grandma’s house and tailed him until I realized that I could call the police from Karen’s house.  Ever ready for action, she jumped into her car and followed him with me.

Did I mention that I was still on my bike? Cue the Wicked Witch of the West theme as my old rattle trap bike was pushed to it’s limit in keeping track of the miscreant.

A helicopter and three patrol cars later and he was safely in the back of one of the cars. By that time, the leftovers from dinner for my mom were spilled all over the bag in my bike basket, making my already sweaty self still more odoriferous by the addition of old chinese food smell.

Those officers really earned their pay that night!  

To the pilot of the helicopter: I do apologize for riding my bike around in the middle of the street and gesticulating wildly for you to follow me. My Lassy imitation got the better of me. And if the kind couple trying to take a peaceful walk read this, I hope someday I will meet you and not be wild-eyed and riding in circles trying to hand signal a helicopter. Next thing you know, I may have thought I was Dirty Harry and started spouting pithy one-liners about making my night.

All in all though, it was a success. They had to let the criminal go (no hard evidence), but I’ve got his number and I don’t think that he will be back anytime soon what with the harrowing experience of a crazy, stinky lady chasing him on an old bike. He did approach Karen in her car and ask her if we were stalking him. You bet your boots we were!

On a less playful note, it is with great sadness that I report Officer Norman Russell of the 19th Precinct, SRB, has left us for another position in the Columbus Police Department.  He gave us almost 10 years of superior service and will be deeply missed.  We wish you all the best, Officer Russell!   

The Westgate Park clean-up on July 7 was a wonderful success. We so appreciated all the effort put forth by the volunteers and thank all who came on out for a really hot morning of trash pick-up and weeding.  

Another important group to recognize are all the folks who walk the park and pick up trash every single day.  Thank you for looking down and making the extra deep knee bend to keep the park looking great! Our next clean-up will be Saturday, August 4. Contact Lisa Grazier for more information.  

If you haven’t heard, City Council gave Community Crime Patrol more money to continue actively patrolling sections of the Hilltop. Thank you to City Council, Ellen Moore (Director of CCP), and all the wonderful folks who patrol.

If you would like to participate in a neighborhood patrol, call your Blockwatch Coordinator to ask them what it entails. It is easier than you think.  And by keeping your eyes and ears open, you too could be the lucky winner of a “bust-a-criminal-on-a bike-ride!”

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