Tuesday night’s meeting of the West Ridge Community Watch Program attracted a small but enthusiastic crowd of neighborhood residents, all of them volunteer members of our new anti-crime citizen patrol. Sgt. Shawn Sisk of the 24th District CAPS Office reviewed the purpose of the Neighborhood Watch and provided volunteers with additional instructions that will help them as they begin their daily or weekly crime-prevention walks throughout West Ridge.
Community Watch members will walk in teams of at least two people and will be on the alert for unlocked cars, homes with open doors or windows and no homeowner around, garages with open doors, or bikes left outside for the night unsecured. Should they see a crime in progress, Neighborhood Watch walkers will call 911; they will also note piles of garbage or other matters properly handled by the City and will contact 311.
Walkers will keep logs of where and what times they walk, and how long the walks last. This information will be useful in tracking the Watch’s impact on crime levels in various areas of the neighborhood. Responding to a question about the best time to walk, Sgt. Sisk noted that crime happens all day, so anytime is the best time.
Watch volunteers will be provided with whatever they need to help the community stay safe. Sisk noted that West Ridge “is not a violent neighborhood” although “isolated incidents” occur from time to time. Walkers were advised to read and become familiar with the crime-prevention tip sheets available through CPD. These can be handed out to neighbors and others.
One neighbor asked about the danger of racial profiling, and Sisk explained the difference between profiling and giving a detailed description. Volunteers will be reporting behavior, not race, although race can be part of a description. For example, he said, reporting three black men walking down the street is profiling; reporting three black men walking down the street trying to open car doors is reporting behavior, with the men’s race just a part of their description.
So far, all the Community Watch volunteers are white. Sisk and the audience expressed the hope that Black, Latino, Asian, and Middle Eastern neighbors will also join, and efforts will be made to reach out to nonwhite neighbors to make the Watch volunteers more diverse. It’s up to all residents to help keep the community safe.
At the end of the meeting volunteers ordered their yellow jackets, which the CAPS officers will deliver personally to each walker. Come summer, yellow tee shirts will probably substitute for the jackets.
To become a member of the West Ridge Community Watch Program, contact the 24th District CAPS office:
24th District CAPS: 312/744-6321 or caps24.org