Urbancrest leaders fight back against crime

Last month, the village of Urbancrest, in conjunction with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, held a special community forum to discuss solutions on how to curb an increase of drug dealing, prostitution and vagrancy in the area.

One of the ideas brought up was the establishment of a neighborhood watch.

The council members agreed this was an important step in helping to clean up the problems and at the Oct. 7 village council meeting, they announced that a block watch will soon be in place.

"As soon as I get word that the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officers are back in town, we’ll hold another community meeting and set it up from there," said Mayor Joseph L. Barnes Sr.

The DARE officers are needed to help establish a community watch.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, a neighborhood watch is one of the most effective ways to prevent crime and reduce the fear that comes along with criminal activities in the area.

"Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to be everywhere," said Corporal Greg Goodrich with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. "But with a neighborhood watch, it gives us a great tool to help the residents assist us when there is a problem, as they know the area and who lives in it a whole lot better than we do."

The sheriff’s office recommended the village appoint a coordinator who would keep the neighborhood up to date on the happenings, and take the initiative of setting up community meetings on a regular basis.

Deputies also recommended the watch be divided up into quadrants or sections and they appoint a captain for the area, who would talk to the neighbors of their complaints and report to the coordinator.

The council hopes the community will come out when they announce their meeting date to give their suggestions on how the block watch should be operated and whom they believe would be a good fit for those positions.

Prohibited parking

Council passed an ordinance that would prohibit parking on specified residential streets for a stretch of time.

"We will probably need to do this for six or 12 months and then go back to the books and reread this ordinance to see if it’s still necessary," said Councilwoman Deborah Jackson.

The prohibited street parking would be the streets east of the railroad crossing (First Avenue, Wallace Lane, Central Avenue and the alleyways parallel to Wallace Lane).

"I think the residents would be willing to work with this to get rid of the unwanted activities," Barnes said.

Councilman Kenneth Skeaton said they have made allocations for residents who are handicapped, but they must have their handicap signs visible, and their vehicles must be registered with the village.

Council said they know this will be an inconvenience for some, but hopes in the long term, this ordinance will help weed out some of the problems in the area.


Council also passed an ordinance to establish a curfew for Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

From one hour after sunset to 4:30 a.m., no one will be permitted to be in the park during that time.

"There have been cases of loitering, sexual activity and other nuisances taking place there during that time," Skeaton said.

Establishing a curfew was another recommendation from the sheriff’s office to jump start their block watch. This curfew would now "give the sheriff’s office the teeth needed" to use when arresting vagrants.

The curfew is effective immediately.


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