'Crime Watch' under way in Dorset
The program, which starts immediately, will provide a link to their neighbors and law enforcement officials, police hope. The program aims to control the spread of rumors by providing accurate information to all who participate. The collection of information will also assist law enforcement by providing immediate details for patterns of behavior, what event has taken place, and hopefully photographs.
Susan Weiss was one of the organizers who was active in getting the program up and running and seems confident that this program will work.
"What the watch program does is it offers several things to the neighborhood," said Weiss. "First of all it is a line of communication to and from your section captain. It's a link to law enforcement and the town center. It's a way in which to communicate and also to receive information back on what is happening."
Each section will have a "section captain" that will oversee the communication between individuals in their own sections and between other section captains. Eventually, when the program becomes more wide spread throughout the Dorset area their will be a "senior captain" to oversee the entire program.
When asked what prompted her to volunteer as a section captain Nancy Schwindt said, "I've just been concerned about what's been going on and I just really wanted to help. The important part is to maintain the safety of our people."
The use of signs will be an integral part in helping ward away potential robbers. Signs and window decals have been designed specifically for Dorset and can be placed on one's property and be identified with the crime watch program. The town of Dorset itself will be providing eight large road signs around the Dorset West Road area.
"One of the things that signage does is it obviously alerts anyone who might be suspicious or trying to rob your house that we are organized, that we are prepared to make a phone call, we are prepared to report this person, and hopefully it is a deterrent," Weiss said.
Individual signs, stakes, and window decals, will be sold at H.N. Williams for anyone participating in the program. The pricing for the items are as follows: Lawn sign (12" by 12") - $45, Road sign (12" by 18") - $50, Window decal (3" by 3") - $1, Small stake (4') - $13, Large Stake (8') - $45.
Those living in the Dorset Historical District will still have to apply for a sign permit to use and outdoor lawn sign. However the permit fee will be waved for those seeking a crime watch sign. No permit is required for signs or decals placed in interior windows. Residents can contact Bob Escher, chairman of the Dorset Design Review Board, for more information.
Those involved seem be believe it is only a matter of time until the program provides benefits to the Dorset community.
"We are all in this together and if we keep our heads up and use the system that we are trying to put into place we will see results," said Rob Gaiotti, Dorset's town manager.
The system Gaiotti is referring to is how local law enforcement will be involved in planning and implementing the crime watch program. Lieutenant Reginald Trayah of the Vermont State Police was at the meeting to explain.
"We have a detective that has temporarily been assigned to our barracks to solely focus on the burglaries," Trayah said, "The Southern Traffic Safety Team as been assigned to assist in this area...and will focus on the west side [of Dorset] and their secondary mission is to, when they stop people, to talk to them about these burglaries. The town has also assigned six additional contract patrols over the next [two months] and we will focus these solely on the west side."
Local Law enforcement will be using a program called "TipSoft" to create a quick and easy way to communicate with each other and the public. What TipSoft does is it alerts law enforcement by e-mail and text messaging when emergencies occur. The police are now using social media to catch the bad guys.
Lieutenant Trayah provided a list of practices that people can implement to become better protected. These practices include making sure all doors are locked and no valuables are visible, photograph and document all valuables, put valuables in secure areas, use an alarm system, use outdoor lighting at night, keep lights on rotating timers, have a caretaker watch the house when your away for extended periods of time, and to just be aware of what's going on around the neighborhood.
Taking these steps, said Trayah, can greatly improve the likelihood that a house will not get broken in to, but if people do not work together this will all mean nothing.
Gaiotti stressed that this program will only work if the community comes and works as a whole and that if citizens work together only good things can happen. The goal of the program will reflect that mindset.
"One basic benchmark would be a drop in the number of reported burglaries, obviously we're hopeful that the problem becomes a non-issue for Dorset," said Gaiotti. "The ultimate goal would be to put a stop to the recent string of burglaries by giving the State Police the information they need to resolve the matter, while creating a program that can be kept going for the future."
The program is based on the Neighborhood Watch Manual provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance which can be found online at USAonwatch.org.
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