The Nevada Police Department has announced that they will hold a Neighborhood Watch meeting from 6-7 p.m. in the city council chambers in the Public Safety Building at 120 S. Ash St. on Thursday, Feb. 7. Anyone interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch program in their area of the city and those already participating are encouraged to attend.
The Neighborhood Watch program has been in the works in the city for about two years, and has seen some good progress lately. Officer John Foster has been heading up the project and Nevada Police Chief Graham Burnley said "he's done a tremendous job" getting people involved. "Through John's efforts we've established the Neighborhood Watch program."
Currently, there are two groups in the city that have organized and are working to keep crime out of their part of the city. Foster said that the only requirement to start a group is that "you are tired of crime." Foster also said the program stresses how important a neighborhood community is and helps to create "a lot more awareness and acceptance of police."
Foster recommended the program because it lets you "get to know your neighbors and what's happening in your area." Once established, each Neighborhood Watch group is autonomous, holds its own meetings and decides how they want to proceed. Foster said he is a "resource" for the groups to use when needed, but his presence at group meetings is up to the group. He said he would be glad to attend meetings, but he also said, "that's their meeting -- I want them to run it."
Burnley said, as police they want to prevent crime first and then catch criminals if they have to. He said the Police Department needs the public's help. He also said that more people in the city are reporting crime.
"They see more than we do," Foster said.
One of the new Neighborhood Watch groups has been formed at Elmwood Estates in the northeast part of the city. Elmwood manager Yvette Wolf said the first meeting went very well. There are 80 families living at Elmwood and Wolf estimated that 25 of them came to the meeting. "People seemed very engaged and interested," she said. Wolf said Foster was "wonderful" with his presentation and that he tailored it to "toward this community."
"I can't say enough about officer Foster," she said.
Wolf stressed the difference in the Elmwood community and the rest of the city. There are 80 families concentrated in a one block area she said. That number would normally be a dozen or so.
Most of the problems they experience "are people that don't even live here," she said.
Wolf said she plans on having monthly meetings and hopes interest in the program will increase. "We are trying to be proactive rather than reactive," she said. "Our goal is for the police not to have to come here."
The meeting in the council chambers is open to any resident and will be informational in nature. Foster hopes to get some more groups going so the program can spread throughout the city. Those attending will get a tour of the Western Missouri 911 Dispatch Center.
Foster said he is going to stress the importance of providing accurate information to dispatchers when making a call to report crime. For more information call the Nevada Police Department at (417) 448-5100.