West Long Branch: Police officers, community service organizers, concerned citizens and a media rep met at the Monmouth County Police Academy facility in Freehold on Thursday, June 7 and Friday to learn about Neighborhood Watch (NW), a program that encourages community participation in Iocal happenings – good and bad. Based on individual town decisions the Neighborhood Watch program may come to local area towns.
The NW concept has been around since the 1970s, as problems and needs have come and gone. Some towns have kept NW going for other than policing matters. NW has served to unite organizations and individual citizens with law enforcement agencies in a municipality, county, and the state in work to reduce crime and improve local communities.
A rash of burglaries in West Long branch, Howell, Oceanport, Ocean, Shrewsbury, Neptune, Red Bank and other nearby towns has brought attention to NW as a workable aid in addressing that situation. NW also may provide the means to train neighbors to assist in emergencies, natural calamities or programs to improve quality of life in local projects like Night Out, and similar programs.
Being introduced to the training were representatives from police departments including West Long Branch, Shrewsbury, Ocean, Red Bank, Neptune, Tinton Falls, Fair Haven, Holmdel, Colts Neck and others, from farther away like Freehold, Edison and East Brunswick. Most were police officers, yet there were concerned citizen agencies and individuals interested in establishing programs in their town.
The program was led by ex-police department head Evelyn S. Cahalen and retired Captain Roger Thomson who are both certified police trainers. They introduced the “Tool Kit” to be used for organizations, which undertake Neighborhood Watch in their locations. They can be available for consulting as needed.
It will be up to individual towns to decide how, when and if to adopt the program. For information, go to www.usaonwatch.org.