MARY MEAUX — Members needed in neighborhood watch groups

Published 12:06 am Thursday, January 19, 2023

Keeping an eye out for my neighbors is something I’ve always done.

I’m not talking about being intrusive; I’m talking about noticing if a strange car is parked at a neighbor’s house when I know they are away. Yes, I did call the police when I saw a man in a neighbor’s driveway using a bat or something to smash truck windows out some years ago.

Just think if neighbors banded together in some sort of group and let each other know when something odd was going on?

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Well, there’s an organization for that. It’s called Port Arthur Neighborhood Action Council and it’s an umbrella organization for individual neighborhood watch groups in the city. One of the most active such groups is the Griffing Park area group.

Port Arthur Police Officer Dairius Charlot said neighborhood watch groups are very important. He called them the eyes and ears of the police. The members are familiar with who lives on their street and know when something is suspicious or out of the ordinary.

“If you see something strange, call us and we can come to your assistance,” Charlot said.

The city once had multiple active neighborhood watch groups but through the years since Hurricane Harvey their numbers have dwindled. Some of the members died while others may have moved away.

Charlot would like to see more participation.

“Griffing Park is just one group but we cover all of Port Arthur,” the officer said. “We need the rest of the citizens to come together so we can reach out to other neighborhoods.”

Jody Holton is head of the Griffing Park group as well as P.A.N.A.C.  She explained the neighborhood watch group formed after a series of murders some years ago. During the first meeting there were 300 in attendance.

And from there residents banded together to look out for each other and this, she said, is what a neighborhood watch does. Who better to know what’s going on in your neighborhood than the ones who live there?

“People say ‘you’re just being nosy’ No, this is your neighborhood. We want a good, safe place. We want people to move here,” Holton said. “It’s very important to feel safe here.”

While there was the dwindling of neighborhood watch groups/members due to the hurricane, the Griffing Park group stayed strong, likely because it did not see as much damage as other areas of the city.

Having the communication between the members and police can be beneficial. She spoke of some recent thefts going on and how the suspected thieves were eventually busted across the Twin City Highway in Groves. (It’s not like there’s a wall separating communities).

Holton is also hoping to see more participation. People interested in joining can go to the P.A.N.A.C. Facebook page and send a message.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at