Roeland Park police want to get neighborhoods involved in a newly energized community policing strategy that includes a neighborhood watch and block captains.
“This is not just to deter crime,” says Roeland Park Police Chief John Morris. “If you know your neighbors, it makes it easier (in lots of situations).” The idea is to start by organizing in a three to four block area. The neighbors could meet regularly and watch out for each other.
Police now do house watches, checking the home when homeowners are away. But, Morris says, “we don’t know everybody in the neighborhood.” By example, Morris says, police don’t always know who has gone to Florida for a couple of months in the winter or which houses might have elderly residents who may need other kinds of help. “If you know your neighbors, it makes it easier.”
Morris sees it as a win-win that keeps the neighborhood safer for everyone, including kids, strengthens the neighborhoods and gets neighbors involved. And, it encourages neighbors to call police when they see suspicious activity. “I would rather get a call and have it turn out to be nothing, than not get called,” Morris says.
Morris hopes to launch this spring starting with a small group and then expanding. Anyone wanting to become a block captain and get the program started in their neighborhood can call the department and volunteer. Otherwise, police will look at crime statistics and find a neighborhood that looks like it might be a good starting point.
Roeland Park has had some watch programs but they have not been actively organized for years.