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The new safe homeland

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SNITCHES.....for more data on how to become a nosey snitch for the government got WWW.USAONWATCH.ORG



Enhancing Homeland Security Locally with Neighborhood Watch


By Michelle Gaseau


April 1, 2002


Home burglaries and graffiti are no longer the only concerns of Neighborhood Watch as the program joins the fight against terrorism… but on a local level.


Last month, Neighborhood Watch programs across the country got a new mandate from Attorney General John Ashcroft who announced an expansion of the community crime prevention program to include the participation of ordinary citizens in detecting and preventing terrorism.


Ashcroft, who made the announcement in Loudoun County in Northern Virginia, talked to residents last month about participating in and starting new Neighborhood Watch programs as a way to join the cause on a grassroots level.


"Neighborhood Watch has been around for years. [Ashcroft talked about] adding a new element to look beyond local predators and expand the thought process of looking at what could be terrorist activity," said Loudoun County Sheriff Steve Simpson, who hosted the event.


Simpson said the kick-off event for the Neighborhood Watch expansion sparked an effort by his office and community policing officers throughout the county to increase participation and revitalize communities where interest had fallen off.


"We've become, over the past couple of years, very involved in community policing. Part of why we were chosen as the county to do this announcement [was] because of our commitment for establishing partnerships [in the community,]" Simpson said.


With the strength of Ashcroft's announcement behind it, Neighborhood Watch has become a high-profile partnership.


An Extra Eye


Since the announcement, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office has been working with Watch participants to help them understand what it means to be on the lookout for terrorist-related activity.


"We have been talking about rental trucks parking in areas looking abandoned, parked in areas where they don't seem to have anyone with them or vehicles abandoned with out-of-state tags," said Simpson.


Many other areas in the community require an extra eye, such as local businesses -- where customers could buy large amounts of explosive material -- or rental companies where vehicles haven't been returned, as well as watching for people taking photographs of businesses or sitting alongside a road monitoring traffic. Simpson said all of these activities could be a sign of criminal activity.


"We've always said [to watch for] someone and something that doesn't fit in. It's hard to describe what is a stranger is. You have to be careful when you define that. We certainly don't want to target particular groups," Simpson said. "We tell them 'You know your neighborhood, you know who comes and goes and who should or shouldn't be there.'"


With that in mind, community policing officers within the sheriff's office have asked citizens to question solicitors about their credentials when they come to the door, and to be willing to call the sheriff's office when they see something out of place.


Simpson said the community policing officers are getting the word out about the expanded Neighborhood Watch responsibilities though meetings with resident groups and through the local newspapers. They also ensure that members of established Neighborhood Watch programs have contact information for their designated officer liaisons including phone numbers and pager access.


Simpson said his staff is aware that there are some skeptics who view the Neighborhood Watch expansion as a "Big Brother" operation, but he emphatically says it is not.


"Some people [think] we are creating vigilante groups. That's not the case. We are very careful how we instruct these folks to do this. We monitor things very closely. If you start getting a bunch of odd-ball calls [from one area,] then you know you have a problem," he said.


According to Butch Kinerney, who serves as a Block Captain for Neighborhood Watch in the South Riding neighborhood of Loudoun County, residents are starting to participate in Neighborhood Watch again just as his group begins to publicize anti-terrorism efforts that citizens can take.


"For a while people were paralyzed with fear. Now, that fear has diminished," said Kinerney. "Our neighbors were [at] the Pentagon and in New York City and we do work for the government. We were all involved [in September 11th.]"


Kinerney's community of South Riding includes about 3,500 homes; most of the residents work in the Washington DC area, many for the government, and are young families or retirees. The Neighborhood Watch there is about a year old.


To bring citizens up to speed on new developments, Kinerney's group used recent messages from the President about the expansion of Neighborhood Watch in its neighborhood newsletter and plans to provide the new Citizens' Preparedness Guide for participants at an upcoming event. Residents can also access information about the Neighborhood Watch from the community's website.


"We are the extra eyes and ears. We don't have a lot of crime, so we're trying to prevent the problems before they arise," he said.


Simpson said this attitude is one that he is trying to promote as his department works to expand Neighborhood Watch.


Defining a Role


Whether it is fighting terrorism domestically or preventing petty crime, prevention comes down to the citizens, Simpson said.


"It goes back to the neighborhood. I think people have to get involved in their community. It is their future and their children's future. They need to be in it for the long haul. You need to stress the importance to your children and take an interest in your neighbors. You'd be surprised how many people don't know their neighbors," he said.


The challenge, Simpson said, may be to keep those who are enthusiastic now from losing interest in the future. He said it is the sheriff's office's job to convey to citizens how important those consistent extra eyes and ears are.


"Residents need to be involved and take a stake in their community and do their part. If everyone does a little bit, it makes it a lot easier to make things happen," Simpson said

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Guest BROWNer

wow....better stop standing at the side

of the highway watching cars go by.

topsy turvy.

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throw eggs or rocks at houses with neighbourhood watch signs , the next day they will be gone from the window .

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