Taking Neighborhood Watch to a New Level

Neighborhood Watch (NW) is a proven, recognizable, and structured way for communities to make and keep themselves safe. It can build community spirit, camaraderie with neighbors, stronger relationships with law enforcement and area businesses, and safer homes and streets. NW has been around for decades, but since 9/11, communities with active NW programs have been encouraged to assist and provide support to homeland security efforts. Communities have been encouraged to develop an evacuation plan, create a neighborhood directory with phone numbers and email addresses, help neighbors develop emergency preparedness plans, discuss local warning systems and the location of temporary shelters in case of emergencies, and discuss potential terrorist targets in or near the community.

If your NW group is thriving and looking to take its activities to the next level, consider this new approach for your NW group. First responders make up only 1 percent of the U.S. population. When disasters strikes, such as tornadoes (Tuscaloosa and Joplin, spring 2011), hurricanes (Katrina, 2005 and Irene, 2011), flooding (Mississippi River, 2011) and snow (Alaska, 2012), the first responders and agencies such as FEMA and the Red Cross can be overwhelmed. Your NW group could assist in recovery efforts by partnering with Citizen Corps and be trained in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) curriculum, which includes fire safety, first aid/triage, emergency preparedness, disaster psychology, organization, and terrorism. Citizen Corps was created to support the Department of Homeland Security to mobilize the country against threats to national security and assist in the recovery after a disaster or terrorist attack.

Your NW group can be a vital player in assisting Americans during their time of need. Your group can undertake activities such as creating partnerships with the local business owners to create a directory similar to one developed for your NW community and planning activities year-round to correspond with Crime Prevention Month events in October. NW can organize around may topics, not just crime. Your group could consider seasonal needs, including weather events or tourist season; year-round celebrations, including Celebrate Safe Communities, www.celebratesafecommunities.org, events; terrorism prevention; and medical emergencies (don’t forget to check on the elderly in your community.) To learn more about Citizen Corps visit www.citizencorps.gov. To find assessments and information to enhance your NW , visit NCPC’s home and neighborhood safety pages under the “Resources” tab.

To find out more about taking your NW group to a new level and partnering with Citizen Corps program, download this podcast interview with Tami Wyrick, executive director of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association.

Community Crime: Eyes Open Again

Reprinted with permission from the print edition of the Kingston Times. For more exclusive content from the Kingston Times subscribe to Ulster Publishing!

By Carrie Jones Ross

Kingston Neighborhood Watch Reboots, Finds Professional TrainingThe concept behind the adage “somebody’s always watching,” is being revisited. After a brief hiatus, the Kingston Neighborhood Watch core has decided to get back at it, only this time with a tighter focus and additional training. Roughly a month ago, the Kingston Times reported that the Watch was calling it quits due to lack of participation. As of last week, the Watch has reversed their decision.

“We are going in off in a new direction,” said Claudia D’Arcy, charter member and one of the group’s founders. Claudia and husband Mike D’Arcy founded the neighborhood watch after a woman was severely beaten and robbed in February 2010 on the Uptown corner of St. James St. and Wall Street. The D’Arcys explained that group’s “infrastructure” is complete, enabling residents to easily report crimes anonymously by downloading forms off the website, or contacting them directly. Forms are there for people to access, and the city has adopted a social media policy as well.” One such tool is SeeClickFix website on which residents can report non-emergency issue or create a watch area, even from Facebook — D’Arcy said that he handles reporting some of the crime-related issues, and other issues are sent to the ward’s alderman. The aforementioned “new direction” is to focus on their ward, and hope that it grows outward from there. Also the group is pushing its new forms found on their website, and hope that people take advantage of the information and opportunity to take a bite outta crime.

What happened? “We had reacted to the city’s need wanting a citywide neighborhood watch, so we put it all together,” said Claudia, who said the original intent was to keep the focus closer to home. The discouragement of a less-than-energetic citywide actual participation was an issue the D’Arcys needed to surmount. “The communication is there, the opportunity to take more responsibility for one’s own neighborhood is in place." Now the D’Arcys say will focus on their own zone, and hope it builds upward and outward from there by example, rather than trying to spread themselves too thin.

The recently passed City of Kingston social media policy offers hope that the city will edge its way out into the modern times to communicate more efficiently with the public — a policy for which the techno-savvy D’Arcy family pushed through the Common Council. D’Arcy said that the sheer numbers of members in his ward speak to the amount of doors he has knocked on and fliers that he has distributed.

According to the D’Arcys, 11 block stewards and eight ward stewards are still in place, and are hopeful that they will want to participate. The number of members varies, largely depending on how active the block and ward stewards are and how many walks residents witness. Ward 1 has 15 members, Ward 2 has 18, Ward 3 has 12, Ward 4 has 16, Ward 5 (the D’Arcys own ward) has 39, Ward 6 has 10, Ward 7 has 3, Ward 8 has 6 and Ward 9 has 16. The D’Arcys assume that everyone remains on board, considering that there are no resignations on record.

Additional training is coming down the pike for the D’Arcys and for any of the interested block or ward stewards from the National Sheriffs Association and from the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department. “Whoever shows up can learn how to do their job the appropriate way,” said D’Arcy. None of them were ever formally trained; they can only do they feel comfortable doing.” Claudia admitted that not offering more training for leaders was a mistake that they plan to correct.

“We are committed to making it easy for people to do the right thing when people are ready to do the right thing, once they have had enough,” Claudia added.

Retiring KPD Chief Gerald Keller said he attributes 17 indictments to the Watch’s activity. “We did make an important arrest at 181 Wall St. just prior to the unfortunate fire [in which a baby perished]. That’s a good example of the help from the Neighborhood Watch,” said Keller. “There was a complaint of drug dealing … based on information from the watch we had our street crimes unit and made an important drug arrest on Aug. 25 who was recently sentenced. The fire was August 29.”

John Rhoades, owner of Midtown’s new teen dance club The Den is a steward for both wards 7 and 8. He is a fan of door-knocking, visibility and making introductions to know neighbors — but is not a fan of the city’s division. “I don’t think social media and the Internet is the whole answer to reaching the community,” said Rhoades. “It’s a part of it, a big part of it. But getting out and meeting people face-to-face and meeting neighbors face to face is when you start to see things happen. I think when people start to see people or recognize them over and over, it creates a sense of community. They say, ‘wow.’ It creates a sense of ‘place,’ ‘where I live.’ They realize that when we become neighbors of the City of Kingston, then any change is possible. We have to meet each other and not be separated. We have to not be separated by wards, it’s all just City of Kingston.”

Trustee and charter member John Dowley says that recruiting more members will be the key to the watch’s growth, and also thinks that visibility is paramount. “One time a gangbanger comes walking out during our walk, and we handed him a flier for the watch,” he said. “He started cursing under his breath, barking all his gangland bullshit. What we did was throw a stone in his pond. Once you stand up to a bully, he’s no longer a bully. This guy backed off quietly. There’s safety in numbers.”

Dowley said that he would like to see a re-vitalization in the signage to promote a sense of pride and presence. “The old neighborhood watch signs are twisted, rusty, broken,” he said. “And then there’s the busted camera on St. James and Wall streets next to the burned-down house. It says a lot — or doesn’t.”

October is Crime Prevention Month

October is National Crime Prevention month—a time when the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) asks us to renew or join the commitment to help “Take A Bite Out Of Crime®.” In 1984, October was designated as Crime Prevention Month through a Presidential proclamation and since then, NCPC has been working with local law enforcement, government agencies, civic groups, schools and businesses, and other organizations to help them spread the word about crime prevention and personal safety. With shrinking law enforcement budgets across the country, the role that each of us can play in preventing crime is more important than ever.

Only last month, the city of Trenton, NJ, became the fourth major city in the state to lay off 10 percent of its police force this year. Amid a surge in homicides, the first-ever police layoffs were felt this summer in San Jose, CA. These are only two in a long list of law enforcement agencies across the country that have been decimated by budget cuts. While the impact of these layoffs is still uncertain, what is clear is that most layoffs have an impact on public safety programs and specialized units that often have the strongest community ties.

The National Crime Prevention Council can help communities fill the gap. “We continuously receive requests for help from communities and local law enforcement experiencing budget cuts to their crime prevention units,” says Ann M. Harkins, President and CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council. “Many departments are struggling to bring crime prevention education programs into the schools or the community. NCPC is their lifeline to continue these efforts.”

The Celebrate Safe Communities Initiative (CSC) is one of NCPC’s many programs that work to enhance police and community interaction and support local crime prevention efforts. Information about CSC and other NCPC programs, training, and resources is available at www.ncpc.org.

Celebrate Safe Communities is a program of the National Crime Prevention Council and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice. CSC began in 2008 in partnership with the National Sheriffs’ Association with the goal of providing free tools and resources to local law enforcement agencies to help them implement crime prevention education programs and activities. In four years, CSC has reached more than one-half million Americans in 40 states across the country. Originally focusing on Crime Prevention Month each October, CSC was expanded in 2010 to a year-round effort to meet the increased demand for resources in communities that have been affected by police layoffs and budget cuts.

Last year, CSC’s suggested theme was the 30th birthday of McGruff the Crime Dog®. This year, for the first time, there will be four themes for CSC—one theme for each week of Crime Prevention Month. The four themes are home safety, crime reporting and community engagement, school and campus safety, and drug abuse prevention. The weekly themes were identified after gathering feedback from 2010 CSC participants.

NCPC is excited to have corporate sponsor, Kwikset, hosting home safety events throughout the year in connection with its Smart Security Tour which also feature McGruff appearances and safety tip information. NCPC is also working with national partners like the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration and many others to provide free, theme-centered training programs and blogs, online resources, and print materials to help local law enforcement agencies and community groups implement CSC events. Budgets are tight, so it’s more important than ever to emphasize prevention by recognizing past successes, organizing new CSC events, and planning for the future.

During National Crime Prevention Month and throughout 2011, more than 250 communities work through NCPC’s Celebrate Safe Communities initiative to hold local crime prevention events where law enforcement, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods join together to host these events, share safety tips, and generate awareness of public safety solutions to local crime problems. A CSC event can be large or small. In 2010, several CSC sites held a 30th birthday party for McGruff. In Greenwood, SC, more than 40 neighborhoods joined local police officers for cookouts, parades, flashlight walks, and anti-crime and drug rallies. Some sites developed creative names for their events like the “prevention convention” in Eugene, Oregon.

This year, events range from safety fairs to safe Halloween events. With the new weekly themes for Crime Prevention Month, some of the CSC sites are organizing a theme event or including the topic in a general safety fair. A new local event this year is a “drive to save lives” event in Charlotte, NC. NCPC is also proud to welcome many new homeowners’ associations and businesses. Businesses such as Lowes, Home Depot, and Target are among those supporting local events. Other sites are organizing activities geared to increase police and community interaction like the one in Pleasantville, NJ, or to initiate or expand Neighborhood Watch groups.

In addition to online theme-based resources, some of the highlights for Crime Prevention Month include a webinar on community engagement in public safety presented by the National Sheriffs’ Association and another on prescription drug abuse trends by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Friend or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive weekly tips and highlights of CSC events. Log onto the CSC website to read more on home safety in Kwikset’s blog, find out what Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) are doing to promote school safety and prevent school violence, or listen to NCPC’s podcast on how to address crime in multi-housing units. You may decide to take advantage of our signature Crime Prevention Month Kit that registered CSC sites will receive. Each year, NCPC develops this kit as a calendar that includes reproducible brochures and monthly tips and strategies to prevent crime. Additionally, throughout the month of October, NCPC will be working with our media network to help your event receive media coverage.

This October and in the forseeable future, community engagement is more important than ever. Though crime and victimization stats are at a 30-year low nationally, many communities are experiencing spikes in local crime. Public fear of crime and the perception that crime is increasing is at the highest rate since the early 1990s (Gallup Poll, 2009).

For more than 30 years, NCPC’s beloved icon, McGruff the Crime Dog, has instilled the message that preventing crime is everyone’s business. NCPC says a special thank you to all the law enforcement officers and crime prevention associations who help bring McGruff into their communities and have helped him achieve a recognition rate of more than 83 percent among Americans of all ages.

As local and state public safety budgets continue to shrink and federal government spending cuts are projected, CSC offers a way to continue the important work of building safe communities and strengthening law enforcement and community partnerships.

Plan your Celebrate Safe Communities event today. Visit www.celebratesafecommunities.org to learn more about our theme-based and other resources for your local event.

Written by Marsha Hott, Director of Community Outreach, and Michelle Boykins, Director of Communications, National Crime Prevention Council

A measure of success....The digg kids...

There is a meeting at the Boys and Girls club wed 5pm... and Thursday, there is a great chance to party and celebrate the digg kids... BBQ at Hodge, and then a walk to South Pine Street Garden... a great reason to be out and about in the street... a perfect fit
The Kingston Land Trust, the Kingston Digital Corridor, KingstonCorridor.com, Neighborhood Watch...
all together now... :-)  The Digg Kids!

Why the criminals are on the street...

One of shooters was already arrested for another shooting... and released!  Why would that happen? Well, here is why:
As printed in the Kingston Times: "The Daily Freeman and Kingston Times both printed the name of the witness, who testified in open court, over the objections of district attorney Holley Carnright, who argued that identifying the witness could put his life in jeopardy."
The sole witness withdrew when he saw his name plastered in the paper, and the case fell apart.  
Read the whole story here.
Free speech, free association... free to make threats, free to participate in a gang... are we not wise enough to have these freedoms and not honestly and fairly limit their use?  

Family Independence Initiative

People helping each other helping each other..
Look at these people!  Brilliant!  
Real progress, real change, neighbor helping neighbor.  A great program.
Just seeing these people speak for themselves and humbly reflect their success is uplifting.


'CIVIC KINGSTON NY: A Forum for Engagement' Will Engage Audience to Turn Vision Into Action

* July 14, Kingston, NY *

A small group of respected civic leaders, politicians and journalists will gather in Kingston on July 14 to consciously create a vibrant community. Transcending the typical panel discussion — stimulating but often fruitless — "CIVIC KINGSTON NY: A Forum for Engagement" will focus on turning vision into action.

Thursday, July 14, 6 to 9 PM
Stella May Gallery Theatre
5 Sterling Street, Kingston, NY

Engaging with the audience, the group will use an organized creative thinking process to explore the issues that matter most and, more importantly, act on them. Following a discussion moderated by Brian Mahoney, editor of Chronogram, the group will break to organize the discussion into major themes. Then they’ll reconvene with the audience to focus on the most important issues, break them down further into actionable projects, and form teams to work on them.

Audience members are encouraged to engage with the group in the discussion and the action-focused process. But even if you go to just listen, your presence is participation enough, the organizers stress.

The group includes: Kevin Cahill, NY State Assembly; Michael D’Arcy, Kingston Neighborhood Watch; Elizabeth Hare, ReadyCollective; Tom Hoffay, Kingston Alderman; Ivan Lajara, The Daily Freeman; Brian Mahoney, Chronogram; Rebecca Martin, Kingston Land Trust; and Scott Tillitt of BEAHIVE.

To bring more folks into the process, organizers will stream the event live online and monitor chat and Twitter during the discussion. Audience members and those who can't make it can submit comments and questions before the event and follow the action live on Twitter using the hashtag #civickingstonny.

Refreshments will be provided.

The event is produced by BEAHIVE, sponsored by Chronogram and The Daily Freeman, and hosted by Stella May Gallery Theater.

Space is limited. Event details and RSVP are at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=233683913309829.

Join the Civic Kingston NY Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_139126452831026) to engage.

BEAHIVE (www.beahivebzzz.com) is a new kind of collaborative space for work and community. Its ultimate aim is to support a Local Living Economy, one that is locally rooted and human-scale. BEAHIVE opened in Beacon, NY, in May 2009 as the first such space in the Hudson Valley and partnered with Chronogram to open a second location in Uptown Kingston in December 2009.

Contact: Scott Tillitt, BEAHIVE - 917-449-6356, scott@beahivebzzz.com

Scott Tillitt