Community meeting begins formation of neighborhood watch groups

Jun 29, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Bayne Hughes

About two dozen Decatur residents filled a conference room Wednesday night to learn about forming neighborhood watch groups and working with the Police Department to fight crime.

Police Chief Nate Allen answered questions about law enforcement and fielded complaints during the community meeting, held at the Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center.

Constituents of District 2 Councilwoman Kristi Hill and District 4 Councilman Charles Kirby were most of the attendees.

Allen, who said he plans to hold more neighborhood watch formation meetings throughout the city, asked those present to register so they can be split into smaller neighborhood groups.

“We’ll facilitate while each group gets organized and chooses a block captain,” Allen said. “We’ll show them how work as a neighborhood watch.”

Allen emphasized to the group that he didn’t want a neighborhood watch that tries to enforce the law and make arrests.

“We want you to use your eyes, ears and ability to talk to neighbors,” Allen told the group. “You should call 911 if something is happening and let us take care of it.”

Allen fielded complaints about speeding, overgrown alleys and trees, 911 call responses, and neighbors allegedly selling drugs. He talked with attendees about officer response times and how Morgan County 911 deals with emergency calls.

The chief emphasized communicating, both with neighbors and law enforcement. He urged the residents to call 911 and not the Police Department’s non-emergency phone number whenever they have a complaint for which they need an officer to respond.

“Don’t post it on social media. Call us,” Allen said.

Prospect Drive Southeast residents Paula and John Alderman said they were impressed with Allen and other officers in attendance.

“Our cops are kinda cool,” Paula Alderman said.

John Alderman said he probably wouldn’t be willing to be a block captain “but I’d be willing to participate.”

Kim Carr, of Lafayette Street Northeast, said she had always held back in calling the police whenever there was an issue in her neighborhood. She said she witnessed a minor crime that she never reported.

“We should be more willing to use 911 anytime we need them,” Carr said. “I’ll call 911, and they’ll prioritize the calls.”