At its two most recent meetings, the Susanville City Council has faced the ire of residents who are fed up with the level of crime in the city — and it doesn’t appear that perception or its subsequent dissatisfaction will disappear any time soon.
Some blame the upsurge in crime on the increasing number of homeless people arriving in Susanville. Others say the use of drugs and the sale of drugs are at the heart of the problem. Still others complain about state laws approved by the liberal voters that make it more difficult for law enforcement and the courts to impose meaningful sentences on the outlaws among us.
But Neighborhood Watch groups — citizens keeping an eye out in their own neighborhoods — may be one of the best solutions available to the public.
Two local Neighborhood Watch groups are enjoying phenomenal success — Depot 6 in Susanville and the group in Spalding. The concept is easy. The groups post signs in their neighborhoods alerting those with ill-intent that residents are keeping an eye on things. Then the residents follow up and watch what’s going on. The neighbors get to know each other, and before too long they can easily spot an out-of-place car and recognize someone who is up to no good.
The residents report the suspicious behavior to law enforcement and hopefully the ne’er-do-wells will quickly have a notso-pleasant encounter with a law enforcement officer. At Depot 6, the residents have identified drug houses, had security lights installed on private property, divided the neighborhood into small areas and initiated patrols, especially at night.
The bad guys know they’re being watched in that neighborhood, and so they take their nefarious behavior somewhere else.
While some will say these groups simply chase the criminals into other neighborhoods — and there may be some truth to that — but that just means we need more Neighborhood Watch groups keeping an eye on their neighborhoods. Eventually, no neighborhood will be easy prey for the criminals.
Depot 6 came into existence because the residents were fed up, and they joined together and made a difference. It’s a model every community can follow.
The best key to taking a bite out of crime is all of us working together — residents, local government and law enforcement, as well. City councilmembers have reported nearly half of the city’s budget goes to public safety — the police and fire departments. Now is the time for all of us to work together and reclaim the city from the folks among us who want to wreak havoc.
One of the purposes of last week’s National Night Out event, held at Memorial Park, is to bring a new awareness to Neighborhood Watch programs. Another purpose is to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and local residents.
Wanna take a bite out of crime? Get together with your neighbors and start watching out for each other. It will make a difference. More information on Neighborhood Watch programs is available by calling the Susanville Police Department at 257-5603 or by going to the National Crime Prevention Council’s website at ncpc.org.