As Sequim grows, unfortunately so do the unsavory elements. While the police department keeps things under control, the community can do its part to help out. One way that Sequim residents can help deter crime is by setting up neighborhood block watches.
Sequim's police-sponsored block watch program was introduced a number of years ago but due to a lack of organization, the program never quite took off. It was, reintroduced a year and a half ago in part by crime prevention officer Maris Turner, who facilitates the program.
According to Turner, the program does not promote vigilante behavior whatsoever. A block watch is simply a group of neighbors who have organized, come to know one another and decided to work together to improve the place where they live.
"It's not a huge commitment. It's basically just meetings however often they want to have them. We require twice a year so they stay in contact with each other," said Turner. "But the biggest part of it is that they're looking out for each other and they are making that commitment to look out for each other and to problem solve on any issues that they're seeing in their neighborhoods."
Those interested should contact Turner and then contact their neighbors to gauge whether or not there's interest in the program.
"It's just a time to talk about those issues, to set goals and decide what their block watch is going to be. It's a real chance for discussion."
From there, the neighbors will work together to choose a captain and formulate what they want to focus on.
The purpose of the program, Turner explains, is to improve neighborhoods while deterring crime and this can be done a number of ways, from adding extra lighting to maintaining hedges low to the ground.
"A lot of times, as far as crime prevention is concerned, environmental design of certain areas either attracts or doesn't attract crime or certain behaviors," said Turner. Criminals like to feel hidden or unseen when they're doing their act and they won't stay for very long if they don't. Hopefully what we're going to do is we're going to make a whole citywide watch where they won't feel welcome; that's our goal."
The block watch program has grown from one to a dozen within the past year and a half.
Business block watches also are encouraged.
"Because the key is visibility, you don't want them to get too big," said Turner. "It's just about being aware enough of what your neighbors routines are, what's normal for them."
For more information or to start a neighborhood block watch, contact Turner at 683-7227 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
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