‘Neighborhood watch’ meeting held at ESM

Published 4:19 am Saturday, March 10, 2018

The first “Neighborhood Watch” meeting on Thursday evening at ESM United Methodist Church was well attended. The meeting was in response to a recent string of burglaries and additional criminal activities in Bogalusa.

Bogalusa Police Chief Kendall Bullen was in attendance, as were the Bogalusa Police Department investigators, led by Capt. Wendell O’Berry.

O’Berry told those in attendance that the BPD “probably had over 100 burglaries” in roughly 60 days, and that it is suspected that juveniles perpetrated up to 80 or 90 percent of them.

“Last week, we arrested 15, 16, and 17 year-old kids,” he said.

Then he offered a break down of the BPD workforce, and said that any help would be appreciated.

Sgt. Jeff Bergeron was next up. He gave attendees the BPD Tip Line telephone number, 732-6238, and advised them to provide as much detailed information, including what color of clothing the suspected persons were wearing and which direction they were going, when calling in a tip.

Lt. Marty Baker then spoke about “how to prevent a crime from happening at your house.”

“The best thing I can tell is to not keep anything visible inside your vehicle,” he said. “Also, lighting a house is important. (Break-ins) are less likely when you make it hard to do.”

Baker also advised everyone to write down their serial numbers, and to take a picture of any prized item and keep it archived.

Bogalusa City Council member Teddy Drummond said, “With 100 burglaries in about 60 days, that’s something we’ve got to get out in front of. If that rate is allowed to continue, one in 20 of our population will be victimized.”

Then he explained how setting up a “Neighborhood Watch” works. It starts by appointing or electing a block captain, and then groups must start to meet to exchange information, and communicate with one another.

“If you could have an organized group watching your property, neighborhood, and community, you might be considered crazy if you did not take advantage of the opportunity,” Drummond said.

Neighborhood Watch is a community crime prevention program that was launched by the National Sheriffs’ Association in 1972 to encourage citizens to look out for each other, work on neighborhood problems, and make themselves safer. Today, more than 40 percent of Americans live in areas covered by some form of a community or neighborhood watch group.

According to a study done by The Crime Prevention Research Review, nearly all findings concluded that all areas associated with a neighborhood watch pointed to lower levels of crime in the area. It has been argued that visible surveillance might reduce crime because of its deterrent effect on the perceptions and decision-making of potential offenders. Offenders may notice the spike in community surveillance, and in turn they decide not to strike or possibly target a different area.

While there are various studies on this topic, meta-analysis found that community watch was associated with a relative reduction in crime of about 16 percent, which is considered a “small favorable effect.”

The next Neighborhood Watch meeting will be held at Westside Emmanuel Baptist Church, located at 1107 W. Ninth St., at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 22.