Prattville Police Revamp Neighborhood Watch Program

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By Catalina Trivino

CBS 8 and ABC Montgomery are beginning a new project -- it's called "Taking Action Against Crime. We are teaming up with local law enforcement officers and Crimestoppers in an effort to help fight the crime rate.

PRATTVILLE, AL -- The Neighborhood Watch program in the city has become nearly dormant the last several years. Now, police are stepping in because  67 percent of the crime that happens in Prattville are burglary or theft related, so they need the public to be their eyes and ears.

Chuck Yates, who spent seven years in his neighborhood watch program, says ever since the program went dormant suspicious activity has gone up...

"If a moving van backed up into somebody's house and you knew they weren't home. And that's happened two or three times," Said Yates.

And as the Prattville Police Department prepares to kick off its community awareness program to make neighborhood watch groups more active, Yates says he'll be watching the streets, too.

Police Chief, Mark Thompson, says there used to be dozens of active neighborhood watch programs in the city. Now, he says there are less than five neighborhoods that are active...

"Unfortunately, nowadays we cant feel safe anymore. We have to really watch for these type things that's why like I said we cant be everywhere all the time and the more eyes and ears we have out there, the more crime we are going to stop," Said Thompson.

Shane Jones has lived in this neighborhood most of his life he wants to see his neighborhood watch group he grew up with return.

"If they could re-up everything and get a meeting together for everybody that wants to get involved. Have a certain number that they could call if they see anything going on that was abnormal. Let the police ride around a little more if they need to," Said Jones.

As the number of active neighborhood watch groups has gone down, the number of certain crimes have gone up. Of about 1,900 crimes that happened last year, nearly 1,300 were burglary and theft related. Yates says bringing back more neighborhood watch groups will bring down crime.

"In fact, when we were in the watch program, there was a couple of incidents that were diverted because somebody alreted the police when someone wast trying to break into something," Said Yates.

Officers will be training in the coming weeks for this new program and starting in May, police will start training you if your neighborhood is interested, although an actual date has not been set yet.

The police department is trying to compile a list of neighborhoods interested in having a neighborhood watch group. You can contact the Prattville Police Department at 595-0202.

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