Article Contributed by
Sherman Chamber of Commerce
Increased acts of nuisance, vandalism, and defacement of public facilities and village park equipment in the Village of Sherman have created a disturbed citizenship. Some damage is recent, much of it in the past. The residents of Sherman are upset, frustrated, and aggravated about the extent of the damages. To contend with unseen, and sometimes seen, vandals the Sherman Chamber of Commerce will hold a public meeting to initiate a Neighborhood Watch Program.
The meeting will be held Thursday, October 13th at the Stanley Hose Volunteer Fire Department assembly hall.
“We need as many people from the village as possible to show up for this important meeting to be informed about the program and learn how they can participate,” Vicki Rater, Sherman Chamber spokeswoman said.
The National Neighborhood Watch began in 1972 with special funding partially provided by the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Regrettably, funding from some of these grants has ended, so private volunteer citizenship has taken over. The NSA knows how vital a program this is and doesn’t want to lose momentum or resources, such as community involvement with the future of the program.
The success of the program has established many Neighborhood Watch training and awareness gatherings like the one in Sherman October 13th. Many communities display street signs, window decals, community block parties and service projects. Residents of Sherman hope the entire village will fully participate in this start-up program.
Chautauqua County Under-Sheriff, Chuck Holder, will make a presentation and introduce the meeting participants to suggestions from the National Neighborhood Watch Program:
- Work with the police or sheriff’s office. These agencies are critical to a Watch group’s credibility and are the source of necessary information and training.
- Link up with your victims’ services office to get your members trained in helping victims of crime.
- Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to decide upon program strategies and activities.
- Consider linking with an existing organization, such as a citizens’ association, community development office, tenants’ association, or housing authority. They may be able to provide an existing infrastructure you can use.
- Canvass door-to-door to recruit members.
- Ask people who seldom leave their homes to be “window watchers,” looking out for children and reporting any unusual activities in the neighborhood.
- Translate crime and drug prevention materials into Spanish or other languages needed by non-English speakers in your community. If necessary, have a translator at meetings.
- Sponsor a crime and drug prevention fair at a church hall, temple, shopping mall, or community center.
- Gather the facts about crime in your neighborhood. Check police reports, conduct victimization surveys, and learn residents’ perceptions about crimes. Often, residents’ opinions are not supported by facts, and accurate information can reduce the fear of crime.
- Physical conditions like abandoned cars or overgrown vacant lots contribute to crime. Sponsor cleanups, encourage residents to beautify the area, and ask them to turn on outdoor lights at night.
- Work with small businesses to repair rundown storefronts, clean up littered streets, and create jobs for young people.
- Start a block parent program to help children cope with emergencies while walking to and from school or playing in the area.
- Emphasize that Watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Their duty is to ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring—and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.
“The National Watch Program empowers citizens to become active in community safety efforts through their participation,” Debra Sanders, President of the Sherman Chamber of Commerce says.