Notes from January 2, 2013 Community Watch Meeting.
Dennis Poteat of Raleigh Police Department discussed best practices of the area’s most successful neighborhood groups.
- Make a point to know each of your neighbors. Know what they do, if they work in or outside of the home, learn to recognize their family and caretakers. Agree to pick up mail and take out dumpsters when they are out of town. Let your neighbors know when you have a maintenance person coming so that they will be alerted if there is activity that was not scheduled at your home. Call/text each other if you should have a question about a maintenance person on your property that was not expected.
- Make a point to attend community events. Here you will learn more about your neighbors as well as discuss those persons who you may see passing through frequently, but may not know personally.
- Reach out to passers by. Studies show that crime is greatly reduced in businesses when customers are greeted as they walk in the door (like “Welcome to Moe’s!”). When people feel ignored, they feel that their potential crime will be easier to enact. As alert neighbors, please smile and say hello to everyone you see pass by. Soon you will recognize those who live near you and are simply walking from work versus those who may be checking out a new neighborhood.
- Keep your sidewalk, curb and particular area of street free of litter. This often seems like another’s problem, but less trash accumulates when people see your space as clean and neat.
- Contact Raleigh Police to have a customized safety inspection. An officer, free of charge, will let you know which windows and doors need higher security, if your shrubs could be problematic, and how to strategically use lighting to deter unwanted activity. To request this free service, call 919-996-1021.
- Invest in motion lighting at your home in the front and back yard.
- Invest in a security system. These most deterring and effective systems have an audible alarm when a door or window is breached. Officer Poteat mentioned that he has never heard of a successful break in when a security system was used.
- At times, our (well meaning) neighbors’ activity can be problematic. Perhaps you know of a neighbor who lets his/her dog into your yard frequently, or who has loud parties after 11 pm. Approach the neighbor during a neutral time to build a relationship. Later, if you have to address a concern, you may be able to reach a consensus without calling Raleigh Police.
- Glenwood Brooklyn in particular is a unique neighborhood. Suspicious activity in suburban neighborhoods are quite normal in ours. A prime example is seeing people walking late at night. Because we are located between several busy districts (Cameron Village, Five Points, Glenwood South, etc), people choose to park and walk to these destinations. Also, people standing at a bus stop is normal. Students walking to/from lunch or their cars is normal.
- Suspicious activity in Glenwood Brooklyn would include these items:
* persons backtracking after recently traveling in one direction.
* persons leaving a residence with a large book bag or other stuffed bag.
* unexpected maintenance persons on a neighbor’s property.
* persons claiming to be city employees or maintenance workers that you have not called.
*student-aged young people loitering on private property during school hours. Students have very little time between classes and even for lunch.
*non-friends and family of your well-known neighbors on your neighbors’ property or opening a neighbor’s car.
*unfamiliar persons sitting or loitering on street or property (not simply passing through).
*unfamiliar persons engaging neighbors–they may claim to be a neighbor and ask to use the phone, ask for a ride to their car, etc.
*unfamiliar persons ‘checking’ car door handles in parking lots.
*graffiti of any kind is evidence of suspicious activity.
*evidence of homeless persons staying in secluded areas is suspicious. This includes clothing or personal items found under bushes, along alleyways.
*persons consuming alcohol in public, namely at our park.
- EVERY TIME that suspicious activity or its evidence is seen, residents should call Raleigh Police Department. The non-emergency phone number is 919-831-6311. Please note that the same dispatchers answer both this line and 911. Either are appropriate, and strongly encouraged by RPD to call.
- Do not hesitate about the importance of an issue when deciding to call. It is up to RPD to determine the severity of an issue. If you see something and think, “Well, maybe that is my neighbor’s friend taking out his television for maintenance,” and choose not to call, you may be encouraging more crime to occur. If indeed it is your neighbor’s friend, then an officer can clear that up quickly.
- Raleigh Police Department depends on residents to be the community eyes and ears. If certain areas get repeated calls, they will increase patrols in the area, cutting down on planned and spontaneous crimes.
- Second hand calls are not helpful. For example, if you see something, do not alert your neighbor or family member and have them call RPD. The quicker that an officer can respond to a first-person account, the more chance they have to solve the problem. Indeed, let your family and neighbors know of activity that you may witness, but always call in and give a first-person account rather than a husband or wife calling for you.
- RPD calls can be anonymous. When the dispatcher asks your name, you may simply say, “Concerned citizen,” and they will leave it at that. Again, dispatchers are grateful to hear from concerned neighbors.