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Troy police look for volunteers for neighborhood watch

With 18 sworn officers and a population just over 10,000, Troy police officers admit they often find themselves with their hands full.

Combine that with a number of recent vehicle break-ins, and the department has decided that now is the time to assemble volunteers interested in helping starting up a new neighborhood watch program - giving them an extra eye on the streets when it comes to criminal activity.

"We've been wanting to do this for a while," said organizer Lt. Brent Shownes. "When it comes to investigating crimes, we do the legwork, but a lot of times it's the people who solve the crimes. They are the ones we get the information from."

Troy's last neighborhood watch program fizzled out more than 10 years ago, mostly because of spotty resident participation and officers not having the time to keep it going. Shownes said for it to work, everyday citizens need to be the ones to take the reigns.

"The way it seems to work best is when we have disciplined, self-motivated people from different areas of the city to act as coordinators," he said. "If the police run it themselves, they don't seem to last."

Although Shownes said he doesn't have a particular number of volunteers in mind of rhte program, he hopes to get at least one representative from each of the major subdivisions in Troy.

As an example of how the program would work, Shownes said officers could teach coordinators what signs to look for to spot drug activity or narcotics dealing in their neighborhoods. Those coordinators could then turn around and spread word to everyone in their area through e-mail, newsletters or word of mouth. With everyone equipped with that information, residents would be able to spot suspicious activity and know when to call the police.

Along with volunteers for neighborhood watch, Shownes said the Troy Police Department is also looking to start up a Volunteers in Policing program, where residents could be trained to also assist officers in their other times of need.

That could include anything from emergency/disaster response and traffic control during serious accidents to supporting telecommunicators or helping get word out on boil orders. Before joining VIP, individuals would be required to take 20-hour Community Emergency Response Team training to learn the basics on first aid and search and rescue.

Anyone interested in the two programs can contact Shownes at 667-6731 or e-mail bshownes@troypolice.us.

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Troy residents interested in helping coordinate a neighborhood watch program should contact Lt. Brent Shownes at 667-6731 or bshownes@troypolice.us.

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