How Effective Are Neighborhood Watch Programs?

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND--In the City of Midland, there are less than 200 police officers who have sworn to protect and serve over 100,000 residents.  They'll be the first ones to tell you, they'll take what ever help they can get.

"Extra eyes and ears is priceless," Midland Police Officer Jimmy Young, said.

A Big Spring man was arrested in the Tall City last week after someone reported something suspicious in the neighborhood.  It's that type of quick thinking that neighborhood watch programs thrive on, especially since police can't be in all places at all times.

Officer Young can't say enough about the neighborhood watch program, in fact, if you've recently started one, chances are, you've talked to him.

"We want neighbors to help each other out. If they see something out of the ordinary, that they don't recognize, we want them to call us to come check that person out.  Or, if they just don't feel right, something about the neighborhood, they can call us," Young said.

Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Gibson has done her part to promote the neighborhood watch program too.

"I think the neighborhood watch program is the best opportunity we have to support law enforcement in our community.  It's just neighbors watching what the other neighbors are doing and what's going on in the neighborhood, reporting suspicious things even nuisances and code violations," Gibson said.

Aside from their jobs with the city and county, both Young and Gibson have a personal stake in the security of their neighborhoods.

"If we have new neighbors or neighbors who have new family members living with them, to come together and meet the other neighbors and know where their support resources are," Gibson said.

"I don't want to be afraid to let my kids play in the front yard.  I just want them to be safe and I want them to feel safe," Young added.

Steven Kempton has lived in his Midland neighborhood for 13 years.  10 of those have been part of the neighborhood watch.

"I think having people keep an eye on our property and we keep an eye on their property has really cut down on the burglaries and crime in our neighborhood," Kempton said.

Officer Young points out, there's no cost to start a watch program, but there certainly are a lot of benefits, "The police car sits out like a sore thumb.  We catch the majority of our bad guys by a neighbor seeing something that doesn't fit in their neighborhood.  I would love to have 100 people on one.  It's just, who wants to take care of their neighborhoods."

If you would like more information about or want to start a watch program in your neighborhood, call Midland Police at 685-7582 and ask for Officer Jimmy Young.