• 75°

JODY PERRICONE — Neighborhood Watch and active residents are doing their part

A neighborhood watch, also called a crime watch, is an organized group of civilians devoted to crime and vandalism prevention within a neighborhood.

Every day, neighborhoods across the United States confront any number of property and violent crimes and threats of crime. This strategy attempts to provide local law enforcement with additional eyes and ears to watch out for all types of criminal activity and promote neighborhood security.

Community crime watches can address all types of crime, but their primary focus is typically residential burglary and other crimes around the home, such as larceny and vandalism. Their presence can also help deter criminals who would attempt to conduct drug- or gang-related activities in the neighborhood.

Apathy, civic disengagement and fear are among the most common obstacles to forming a Neighborhood Watch. Education, usually via law enforcement, can overcome such obstacles.

The potential for displacing crime to other neighborhoods is a concern for law enforcement; they seek to involve as many neighborhoods as possible to offset the potential for displacement.

Port Arthur Police Department enthusiastically supports our residents being involved in neighborhood watch programs.

Weapons are not part of the watch program and are discouraged, even though local laws and permits may give a volunteer the legal authority to carry a gun (either openly or concealed). Neighborhood watch programs are created mainly around the concept of getting to know one’s neighbors.

Generally speaking, the term refers to a nationwide crime prevention initiative where citizen volunteers actively patrol their neighborhood for illegal activity.

Neighborhood watch programs are prevalent in the U.S. and, if implemented properly, can be a valuable tool in crime prevention.

Prior to Harvey, Port Arthur had a very active citywide Neighborhood Watch program under Port Arthur Citizens Action Council. Just about the time the reconstruction of the Ryman Building on 39th Street was completed and we were able to occupy it again, along came Covid and two more storms.

Many of our long-time participants, unfortunately, have either moved on or passed away.

We are in a rebuilding phase with neighborhood watch. Port Arthur Neighborhood Watch (PANAC) is the umbrella organization that brings together all of the active groups, sharing education and information.

We have police that attend our meetings, advising us and listening to our concerns. Each group is self-governing.

All we ask, is that representatives from your neighborhood attend our meetings every other month, let us know what your concerns are and share valuable information among our groups. If you and your neighbors are interested in forming a group, we are here to help you get organized.

We meet every other month, 3rd Monday at 7 p.m., in the Ryman Building, 3248 39th St.

We are also on Facebook, P.A.N.A.C., Port Arthur Neighborhood Action Council (Neighborhood Watch).

Our next meeting is Monday/May 17, at 7 p.m. Anyone interested in learning more is welcome; we hope to see you there.

— Jody Perricone Holton is president of the Port Arthur Neighborhood Watch/Port Arthur Neighborhood Action Council.