On Wednesday evening, Jan. 29 the Trinidad Police Department held a meeting with the goal of restarting the Neighborhood Watch meeting and informing the public on how they can help the TPD be more effective. Community Service Officer Temple Young began the meeting welcoming the nearly 50 individuals in attendance and gave some background on the national program.
“The National Sheriff’s Association started this program in 1972,” said Young. “They decided that crime had heightened and they needed some eyes and ears for those residential areas — so they got in touch with their citizens so they could have that partnership with law enforcement. It’s one of the oldest most effective crime prevention programs in the country bringing the citizens of the community together all with the goal of keeping those communities safer.”
Young explained that after gathering a group of individuals in your neighborhood and choosing a captain, a packet would be administered to determine a calling tree and other tips and tricks for making your neighborhood safer. To get a sign, Young said that the group would have to show their seriousness for maintaining the group.
“If this is something you decide you want for your neighborhood, then you’ll have to reach out to those neighbors and in the first meeting your group has we’ll go over how to start,” said Young. “Once you’re established, we’ll provide signs for you in those areas.”
Young also said that while an officer will not be at all meetings, they will generally come to at least one each year for each group and if a group expressed that they would like an officer to be there they would try to ensure one was present.
As several individuals at the meeting were business owners and had asked if there were any programs that could be of benefit to them, Young expressed that the Neighborhood Watch wasn’t the only program that the department was trying to get going again.
“Courtney Festi will be starting the Business Watch and she’ll have a meeting for that group at the end of February,” Young said.
Following Young’s presentation, the topic of discussion shifted to concerns with crime in the city. Chief Charlie Glorioso presented everyone with a sheet outlining accurate, current major crimes in Trinidad, showing a decline in the majority of the different offenses. The biggest decreases were an 820 percent decrease in sexual assault and a 118 percent decrease in motor vehicle theft compared to the five-year average difference.
The numbers also showed a six percent increase in calls, which Young explained was directly correlated in most cities with lower crime rates.
“This sounds basic,” Young said, “but typically the more calls the department receives for suspicious activities, the number of crimes committed decreases. If you get a gut feeling that something is wrong, always call. That’s what we’re here for.”
The overarching theme for the continued discussion after the presentation was just that. If there is a situation that a citizen doesn’t feel is right or seems suspicious, always call the police as soon as possible, whether the problem is with a suspicious person or another officer.
“If you don’t call, we don’t know and we can’t fix it,” said TPD Captain Dan DuRan. “As Captain of Patrol I need you to know that if you ever come into contact with an officer and he seems agitated that he’s there or makes you feel like he’s bothered, please call me. I will rectify that immediately. I’ve been a police officer for 25 years and every call that I’ve ever gotten I’ve responded to immediately. If there’s a call, we’re going to go. No matter how trivial you think it would be, if it’s important to you it’s important to us.”
Currently, the department is working to get more officers on patrol but Chief Glorioso said it wasn’t as easy as hiring someone and getting them out in the field.
“When we hire an officer that’s not certified, I’ve got 21 weeks for the academy they need to attend and then they’ve got 20 weeks that they need to come back and get field training,” said Glorioso. “That’s almost a year before I get those boots on the ground so it takes some time.”
The city is also working to bring up salaries as well to avoid turnover, which has also been a difficulty for the department, Glorioso explained.
“We’ve had some turn over here and we’re trying to get our salaries up so I can keep the good officers that I have and it’s a struggle,” said Glorioso. “I had a really good officer that had been here for seven years and he left for a better salary and to improve himself. When that officer of seven years leaves, I’m replacing him with a brand new officer. I want to pay these people the salaries they need to keep them here and it’s a struggle to get that done because there’s only so much of the pie.”
Among the concerns brought up at the meeting were officers arresting individuals for them to be back out on the streets causing problems days later. DuRan said that issue was more to do with the District Attorney, as the police were only one spoke in the wheel of the judicial system.
“All we can do is respond to the calls and make the arrests and put as much as we can in the reports,” said DuRan. “We share all information with the DA’s office and once the arrest is made, the decisions after that are up to the DA and judge.”
Several times, citizens in attendance asked what they could do to be of help to the department and to that, DuRan stated the Neighborhood Watch could help solve numerous problems by giving the department more eyes and ears.
“One of the biggest things is to just be observant,” said DuRan. “You all know your neighborhoods and who’s supposed to be there and who’s not far better than we do. With the Neighborhood Watch, this is the first step in taking our community back.”
For more information about creating a Neighborhood Watch in your area, contact Temple Young at email@example.com.