The Northwood Police Department is hoping residents will reorganize and restore the city’s blockwatch program, which has been dormant for the last several years.
“We had one years ago in 1998,” said Police Chief Tom Cairl. “It kind of fizzled out, mostly because people are so busy and don’t have time to participate. The blockwatch is run by residents. The police department helps facilitate the actual meetings.”
The police department in the past advertised in the media in hopes of getting it started up again, but nobody was interested, said Cairl.
“We put something out in the newspapers, in our Facebook account, something on our website. We just couldn’t get anyone to take interest,” said Cairl.
Resident Audrey Caligiuri is helping to bring back the program, said Cairl.
“Audrey promoted it, and now we have 12 to 13 people that are showing up for the blockwatch meetings,” said Cairl.
All meetings are held at Fire Station No. 1 at 2100 Tracy Road. “Anyone can show up. It starts at 6:30 on the third Wednesday of the month,” he said. The next meeting is scheduled for December 19, he added.
“Basically, the first meeting was just to see who was interested and if they want to participate. They care about the neighborhoods and the community. We’re willing to help them,” he said.
So far, block watch participants received tips from a patrolman on how to protect themselves and their homes, said Cairl.
“This isn’t something in which we want them to patrol their neighborhoods. If they see something, we want them to report it to the police. When you report it, you did your citizens’ duty. If you see something out of line, just report it and we can see what’s going on. So we’re trying to get some input to get citizen involvement. We’d like to see the program grow.”
The majority of blockwatch members are from the Wales and Tracy roads area, and I-75, which Cairl calls District 1.
“We have people from both sides of the city involved. We have one individual from behind the Great Eastern Shopping Center who’s been showing up. We’d like to get more from that area. I’d like to get more involvement from people in the Woodville Road area or behind the Woodville Mall. I understand people are still busy, but if they want to take an active role in making things better in society, I welcome them to show up at the meetings,” said Cairl.
There are no plans to start more than one blockwatch in the city, he added.
“We’ll focus on this one. We’re one city. We’ll share one block watch for the entire city,” he said.
The public, he said, can access up to date crime reports online at crimereports.com to learn about crime occurring in their neighborhoods.
“If residents are curious about a police car they saw down the street, they can go online. It gives you a two dimensional view over Northwood, and the crime occurring around your address, in the last 90 days. We’re not crime free. That’s why we have to educate the public on what’s going on in our neighborhoods and see what’s taking place. You can just look at the list of property crimes, domestics, assaults. And you can go back in time to look at crime.”
For a detailed report, residents can go to the link http://northwoodoh.policereports.us/ and click “police reports online” to fill in the incident number, he said.
“We’re hoping to get them integrated in the future so you only have to go to one site,” said Cairl.
Caligiuri is hoping more residents will attend upcoming meetings
“My drive for encouraging a blockwatch program was to be the eyes for our police department, especially after so many break-ins to vacant homes in our neighborhood this summer,” she said. “We can help the police because we know our neighbors, our neighborhoods and can more easily recognize strangers in our area.”
“Let us know if you see something because you know the neighborhood better than us. This person might be out of place. We might not be able to stop and talk with them because they’re not doing anything illegal. Our officer will drive by and check out the situation. It might be someone we’re looking for,” said Cairl. “It’s about people trying to watch out for themselves and their neighbors. Maybe we will catch them looking into cars or loitering or something, and then we can talk to them and see who they are. I encourage everyone, if they see something, to report it. You’re not bothering us. Let the officers out there make the determination if someone is doing something wrong.”
The public can call the Northwood Police non-emergency number at 691-5053 if they want to remain anonymous, he said.
Residents can also help deter crime, said Caligiuri, by turning on their outdoor lights.
“Even if they can’t make the block watch meetings, they can still help make our neighborhoods safer by lighting up their yards. Not with motion detectors, but with porch lights. If you drive down a road that has the front light and back yard light on, it would be a deterrent for intruders. They would be too visible,” she said.