SALINEVILLE - Village residents and members of the newly formed neighborhood crime watch group held their first meeting Tuesday night at the Kiwanis Building in Salineville.
An audience of about 30 people including council members, members of previous village watch groups and residents whose homes had been recently burglarized turned out to learn what they can do to make their community safer.
There to advise and provide guidance to the new group was a panel consisting of Sheriff Ray Stone, Sergeant Kip Dowling, and Wellsville crime watch member Janet Taggert. Village residents Dwayne Martin and Rhonda Beadnel acted as the crime watch's unofficial officers for the meeting.
Salineville Crime Watch organizers (from left) Rhonda Beadnell and Dwayne Martin sit with Wellsville crime watch organizer Janet Taggert, Sheriff Ray Stone, and Sheriff’s Sergeant Kip Dowling at the Kiwanis building in Salineville Tuesday. The meeting was a chance for residents interested in starting a crime watch to learn about what they can do to make their community safer. (Photo by Devin Bezeredi)
Martin was quick to point out that despite the village police department's recent problems with understaffing, the purpose of the meeting was not to complain about or criticize the village's police. "We are not here to bash our police department, we are here as a community to try to help them."
Sheriff Stone agreed the village police department is not to blame and told the audience the village is in need of a full time police force. " Your community needs law enforcement, it's too many people close together," said Stone noting that wherever people live close to each other crime is bound to happened.
Perhaps the central focus of the crime watch's first meeting was establishing an understanding of the legal and proper way to conduct a neighbor watch. In the lead up to the meeting various members of the crime watch group had suggested different ways of going about the watch during village council meetings. "Everybody has their own opinions on things, everybody has different ideas on things that's why I requested this meeting, to try to get some input from other people." said Martin
Several audience members spoke up asking Stone and the other panelists if patroling was an acceptable means. While the sheriff did not explicitly tell residents not to patrol, he said it was his experience that crime watch groups are most effective when they gather intelligence and provide information to police agencies.
"To me the name 'crime watch' pretty much says it all - you watch for crime," said Stone. When asked what information should be reported to police, Stone said license plate numbers and vehicle descriptions were good but any information is helpful. "Too much information is better than not enough," said Stone.
Taggert told the audience her group of six citizens does not patrol for their own safety for the sake of the village police department. "Our main focus is to report it to the police," said Taggert. "The (Wellsville) chief and all the police officers don't want us out in the street and we don't want to be out on the street."
There was minimal organizational business conducted at the meeting, however, crime watch leaders said the purpose of the meeting was not to elect officers or officially charter the organization but rather to get a sense for how many residents were interested in taking part. Martin noted that this meeting was mostly a brainstorming session to come up with ideas. He said more meetings will likely follow.
Crime watch organizer Rhonda Beadnell said that the new group wants to allow neighborhoods which are not technically part of the village but are nearby and considered part of the community to take part in what she called "community watch."
In closing, Stone told residents their crime watch will be as effective as the amount of effort they put into it. "We're here to give you any guidance we can but it's you, the community, who have to do it." said Stone.