Neighborhood watch groups turns three

Reprinted from The Troy Record

Neighborhood watch groups turns three

Published: Monday, July 19, 2010
By Cecelia Martinez
The Record
TROY — Members of the Osgood/South End Neighborhood Watch gathered at the Troy Area United Ministries building on Second Street Tuesday to celebrate three years as an organization. The celebration — like any birthday party — was complete with cake, decorations and party favors as the neighbors applauded the work done over the past three years and looked forward to the next steps to be taken.

“We asked everybody to put down three positive things about our neighborhood and then three issues that they saw in the neighborhood that might be problems,” said OSENW member Sidney Fleisher. “We have those sheets and we’re going to evaluate those and come up with the results and next month we’ll talk about that and develop some strategies to deal with some of those problems.”

The group, like many neighborhood watch organizations, was formed when a violent incident incited concern in the residents of the South End. After the beating death of a man at a neighborhood bar, neighbors gathered to discuss what had happened and develop ways to keep it from happening again.

“I think some of the real positive things that the neighborhood watch does is that it introduces everybody to each other, so you get to know who actually lives in your neighborhood,” said Fleisher. “You say hello to people a little bit more and you start to know who’s not supposed to be hanging around or who might be looking to cause some problems.”

Monthly meetings generally attract between 20 and 30 people, and the e-mail mailing list for the group tops 100 subscribers. Unlike some neighborhood watch groups, the OSENW does not go out on formal patrols.

“It’s more like window watching, in a way,” said Fleisher. “When you’re walking around if you notice something you might note it. We fortunately don’t really have a neighborhood that requires that kind of thing.”

Another positive resulting from the neighborhood watch group is the interaction and collaboration between the neighborhood and Community Police Officer Chris McDonald. McDonald attends every meeting and is a source of constant contact for neighbors to raise issues or report suspicious activity.

“He knows everybody,” said Fleisher. “I think the fact that we have a very active neighborhood watch really helps to keep crime down because people aren’t afraid to call up Chris and say, ‘I saw this’ and he’s willing to investigate it. The police are really helpful, and they like the idea of the neighborhood watch because it helps them, having that many more eyes in the neighborhood.”

At the other end of the city, the community police presence is a large component of the North Lansingburgh Neighborhood Watch, which is also celebrating its third anniversary later this year in September. NLNW leader Jim Gordon said that he is in contact with either code enforcement of Community Police Officer Chuck McDonald on a daily basis.

“He’s very involved,” said Gordon. “He comes to all our meetings, and he’s one of the people I communicate with, just passing along the information that I’ve found or that others have given to me.”

Like the OSENW, the NLNW was formed when a neighborhood resident reached out to the community after an incident took place near his home on 4th Street. Now, nearly three years later, meetings pull an average of 40 to 45 attendees and focus on a variety of topics from consumer protection to veteran affairs to available funding programs.

“There’s so much available to people out there so having different speakers from all levels and all types of agencies just gets everyone educated and keeps them more informed about changes and what’s available to them,” said Gordon.

The OSENW meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at 392 2nd Street. The NLNW also meets the second Tuesday each month at 7 p.m. at the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club.

Cecelia Martinez can be reached at 270-1294 or by e-mail at cmartinez@troyrecord.com.