SALINEVILLE - Concerned residents looking to make their village safer got a little help from village council Monday night.
The council approved the purchase of 20 "crime watch" signs for an unofficial group of village residents calling themselves the neighborhood watch.
The group has formed in response to a rise in burglaries in recent months and has sent several representatives to recent village council meetings to announce their intentions.
Members of the group in attendance at Monday's meeting included former law enforcement officials, such as James Wilson and Dwayne Martin, as well as ordinary citizens, such as Lyn and June Raffle.
Their exact numbers are not yet known; however, Wilson said they will be having their first meeting soon.
In a meeting highlighted by the resignation of police Chief David Hilliard Jr. and longtime patrolmen Stephen Thomas, councilman Jim Howdershelt spoke up in support of the newly formed group, saying Hilliard had endorsed the idea of a neighborhood watch and crime watch signs.
"The chief is in favor of the crime watch thing, he just wants to make sure there are rules and the right people are in charge because he doesn't want to happen here what happened in Florida," said Howdershelt, presumably referring to the shooting of Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
"I know there's about 25 people who are going to set up a meeting and set this (neighborhood watch) up."
Howdershelt then made the motion for council to purchase 20 signs at a cost of $319.
Village resident June Raffle has been researching crime watch signs via the internet and provided council with a basic description of the signs.
According to Raffle, the signs would be 12 inches by 8 inches and feature the familiar, blue crime watch eye design. The signs would read "We immediately report all suspicious activity to our police department" according to Raffle.
Members of the fledgling crime watch groups volunteered to install the signs and other residents stepped forward offering to pay for posts on which to mount the signs. Signs will be placed in areas where neighborhood watch members reside according to watch members. "Now more than ever, since there's not the police protection, we as citizens need to start taking a stand and saying 'I care,' not just caring about ourselves but caring about everybody," said Raffle.
Councilman Rick Beadle questioned neighborhood watch members as to whether they were truly serious about starting up the organization noting that residents have tried to form similar organizations before and failed.
"Are we sure this organization is being started?" asked Beadle. "We're not putting the cart before the horse here?"
He was assured by Dwayne Martin and other neighborhood watch members the organization is well on its way to being founded and all action taken by the group would be approved by the chief of police.
Howdershelt then made the motion for council to purchase 20 signs at a cost of $319 . The motion passed by unanimous vote. The signs are expected to be delivered within two weeks.