We are putting together a Google sign-up sheet so that members who have volunteered, and any future volunteers, will be able to select times and areas of the SRCC neighborhood to patrol as part of our reinstitution of the Neighborhood Watch. Our goal is to get all of the 8 areas of SRCC covered by patrols at some point, and have sign-ups be for walking, bicycling and/or driving for periods of a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour. There are different viewpoints on what type of patrol is most effective (such as the benefit of patrolling the area around your street so that recognition of something or someone out of place is easier to spot), but paramount in this will be to have all of the areas patrolled at one time or another, and in particular at times and in areas where the most criminal activity is occurring, recognizing that many if not most participants are typically not able to patrol late into the night. Everyone should keep in mind that when on one of the neighborhood watch patrols, it is not our job to stop crimes or apprehend criminals. The goal of the Neighborhood Watch patrols, as well as the placement of Neighborhood Watch signs in our 8 areas, is to provide a deterrence by our roving presence, and to alert the police to any observed suspicious persons or activity.
In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to operate at all times, whether at home, on one of the scheduled patrols when they begin, or just when out and about, as a neighborhood watcher. We have several kinds of criminal activities happening in our neighborhoods, including car break-ins, home burglaries, package thefts from front porches, and now the shocking events involving delivery of explosive packages to homes in the city. Just as when on actual Neighborhood Watch patrol, we need at all times to be vigilant about what is going on in our surroundings: look, listen and watch, and report anything or anyone which seems suspicious or out of place. The Austin Police Department representatives for our area have emphasized that we should not be shy or hesitant about reporting something by calling 911, even if it turns out to be nothing, as it is “better to be safe than sorry.” Together with being vigilant about what we observe, it is equally important to make it difficult for criminals to operate in our neighborhood: lock doors and windows of homes and vehicles; do not leave valuables in vehicles or where they otherwise can easily be seen; turn porch and other outside lights on at night, particularly in dark or secluded area; keep bushes and shrubbery trimmed around windows and doors close to the house; and if possible, install security systems and security lights.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.
Chair, Public Safety Committee