HARRISBURG -- In the wake of Friday's murder of Aaron Gregory, getting a Neighborhood Watch program started in Harrisburg has taken on even greater urgency for Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek.
McPeek said Monday plans are moving ahead to create a chapter of Neighborhood Watch here, in which citizens are taught what to look for and how to keep neighborhood crime to a minimum.
He first pledged to start a Neighborhood Watch program at a public forum on crime the city held May 22.
"The idea is to find leaders in all our neighborhoods and help get the word to our police department when you suspect criminal activity," McPeek said. "Our residents have to be vigilant and report anything and everything to police."
The mayor said residents are on edge after Friday's shooting on Granger Street, and with good reason.
"I'm concerned about it, too. The council is also concerned. We need the help of the community to keep our community safe," he added.
McPeek said councilwoman Beth Montfort is preparing Neighborhood Watch booklets to be distributed to neighborhood leaders. He added that the city's Facebook page can also be invaluable to alerting police and other emergency responders as to potential criminal activity.
The neighborhood crime watch program has been in place for decades throughout various areas of the country. A few of the benefits, according to the National Crime Prevention Council, include:
• Deters criminal activity.
• Creates a greater sense of security and reduces fear of crime
• Builds bonds with neighbors, as people look out for one another and stimulate neighborhood awareness.
• Reduces the risk of becoming a crime victim; reducing the physical, financial and psychological costs of crime.
• Instructs residents on how to observe and report suspicious activities.
• Offers continued education and resource contact for victims of crime.
• Addresses quality of life issues and mutual interests in your community.
• Enhances Homeland Security.
• Works collaboratively with other civic and community activities.
Meanwhile, McPeek said he has instructed the police department to increase its presence in the neighborhoods where shootings have occurred.
"And I'd like to point out that the city has received excellent help from the sheriff's office," he added.
"We're all working together to try to fix the problem."
Neighborhood Watch coordinators can organize a neighborhood watch, business watch, apartment watch, foot patrol, and other crime prevention activities. Most important, their job is for neighbors to et to know neighbors and make the community a safer place to live, block by block.