Know thy neighbor. It's the motto of a North Columbus block watch that is good at fighting crime while fighting to get more people involved.
Brad and Rayna Morgan think they live in the best neighborhood in the city. It is a quiet pocket of bungalows, cottages and two story homes known as Kenmore Park in North Linden. “I generally know what happens before the police do in most cases,” says Brad.
Their feeling of security is bolstered by a network of neighbors who look out for each other.
“I've interrupted kids hot-wiring cars. A couple of them in one afternoon,” says North Linden Area Commissioner Paula Burleson.
Block Watch Member Michelle Christopher says the goal of the group is to create awareness and keep eyes open. “Pay attention to your neighbors’ houses and notice if there's anything unusual and don't be afraid to call the police if something's going on.”
A sign declaring “Block Watch Area - Criminals Beware” is posted at the entrance to a popular gathering spot, Kenlawn Park. Residents love to walk their dogs here and teach kids how to ride bikes.
The Kenmore Park block watch also has a lot of support. A neighborhood church paid for a playground here, but the big challenge remains the same: getting more people to commit and stay committed.
“We don't ask you to run outside or chase people down. Leave that to the police, but get a description, get an idea. If it doesn't belong, something's not right, call. Make the call," Brad says.
It's nothing for Brad Morgan to hop into his SUV and cruise the neighborhood. He's been on the lookout for burglars lately because of a recent spate of break-ins. He has surveillance cameras mounted outside his house and motion sensor spotlights trained on the driveway. But they all agree, the best crime-fighting tool they have is each other.
“We had one incident where stuff was going on in the park and he made the phone call and within 7 to 8 minutes we have a police helicopter and six cruisers. They're really on the ball and they know. It ended up being a three felony arrest and a misdemeanor," Rayna Morgan recounts.
The Kenmore Park block watch has about 75 people on the membership roster, but only a core group of 15 to 20 makes the monthly meetings. They hope that number will go up now that winter weather is breaking.