Police chief gives advice on neighborhood watch
Murphy – Police officers aren’t the only people helping keep the streets safe.
For the last six years, neighborhood watch groups have teamed with the Murphy Police Department to tackle crime in town. Police Chief Justin Jacobs said the first Murphy Neighborhood Watch started in 2012 to combat a known drug house on their street.
After undergoing training on how to properly gather evidence, they were able to assist in the downfall of the suspected illegal activity. Since then, two other neighborhood watch groups have successfully combated crime in their areas.
Jacobs said during the last couple of weeks the Murphy Police Department has received an influx of calls regarding a neighborhood or crime watch. If someone is interested in starting their own neighborhood watch, Jacobs said to call the Murphy Police Department at 837-2214 or visit the station on Tennessee Street downtown.
The department will provide free training materials, window stickers, yard signs and streets signs for those wanting to form their own group. Jacobs said the signs have proved successful in deterring criminal activity in neighborhoods. When every single house has a neighborhood watch sign on their doors or in their yards, people are less likely to commit a crime in that area.
Jacobs said people often expect officers to be involved with the watch groups 100 percent of the time. However, that’s not the department’s function.
“Law enforcement’s role is to help get them started with the community, put the materials into their hands and they can run with it,” he said.
Police officers will provide a presentation regarding the proper strategies for finding evidence, answering any questions people may have. Once everyone is confident in what they have learned, law enforcement is less involved.
Instead of an officer being in charge of the group, Jacobs said a neighborhood watch typically designates a “block captain.” This leadership role entails scheduling meetings and being the key person to look over a house when the owner leaves.
Jacobs said one of the biggest challenges with neighborhood watch groups involves keeping members active.
“Once we have fixed the problem, then the neighborhood watch tends to fall out of the way,” he said. “Getting one started is the easy part – the hardest part is to keeping going.”
One method used to maintain an informed group involves holding annual block parties. Every Memorial Day, Jacobs said they bring tents, food and cornhole games to gather everyone in the neighborhood.