Neighborhood watches lower crime, raise awareness
OKLAHOMA CITY —
The George Zimmerman trial and outcome has not only thrust race into the spotlight, but also neighborhood watches. Zimmerman was acting as a member when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
"It's a huge plus if you have a very active neighborhood watch group out there," John George, the President of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police. He calls them a deterrent to crime, "Somebody does not want to break into a house if they think someone is watching." George said.
Police have officers specifically assigned to train members of watch groups. "They are told during their training, not to confront anybody," George said. In addition members on patrol should be in a vehicle, never patrol alone and do not carry a weapon, "That's pat of the criteria, in the application process they have to abide by the rules and they do not let them carry weapons," George said.
Oklahoma city has roughly 964 police officers, about the same number it had 20 years ago, "We are stretched thin," said George. Neighborhood Watches can combat that by reporting any and all suspicious activity they see, "Really they are just the eyes and ears, report suspicious activity but stay out of the way."