‘Grassroots’ Neighborhood Crime Watch aims to grow in Johnston

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Would-be visitors to District 2 in Johnston who are thinking about committing a crime – or just dumping trash – better beware: The town’s first-ever Neighborhood Watch Team has its eyes focused on you!

In what’s being called a “collaborative effort” between Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, the nationally-accredited Johnston Police Department and District 2 Councilwoman Lauren Garzone, nine area residents turned out at the Senior Center last Thursday night for a highly-informative presentation.

Many in attendance said they believe the newly formed neighborhood watch group may be the first volunteer resident organization of its kind in Johnston history.

“The men and women of the Johnston Police Department are extremely excited in the launch of this community partnership,” Johnston Police Chief Joseph P. Razza told District 2 residents. “We look forward to working one-on-one with the residents in this district and together we will address quality of life issues as they arise.”

Razza also explained: “The (Neighborhood) Watch is a grass roots method for the residents in this district to open lines of communication, meet their neighbors and develop relationships that build community resiliency.”

Razza was accompanied by Deputy Chief Mark Vieira, Capt. Joseph Salvadore and Capt. Troy Maddocks, who collectively bring nearly 40 years of experience and service to the table.

The town’s top cop, already a veteran lawman, is a Johnston native serving his first year as Chief after working his way through the ranks.

Razza tried to be thorough in covering a myriad of subjects during his presentation that echoed the Johnston Police Department’s credo of “Working Together, Making a Difference.”

He said he was “pleased with the turnout of this initial meeting and confident in the growth and success of this program.”

Razza further explained that the Neighborhood Watch is a program in which a group of residents living in the area want to make their neighborhood safer by working with members of the police department.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our residents to volunteer and work towards increasing safety and security in their neighborhood,” Razza said. “Volunteers often choose to mobilize and walk the streets and report suspicious activity to the (Johnston) Police, and we will also provide you with printed crime prevention information.” Razza distributed three packages at the meeting last Thursday night.

Razza also emphasized “the most important thing to remember is that everyone should be a good neighbor and take an active role in looking out for one another.”

“If you see or observe something of a suspicious nature, bring it immediately to the attention of the police,” Razza said.

Meanwhile, Garzone – who was formerly a member Johnston School Committee before being elected to the District 2 Council post -- was ecstatic with the turnout and thanked each and every resident for their interest. She said she is looking forward to the town’s first-ever Neighborhood Watch growing in numbers.

“It is often said that safety starts at home,” Garzone began. “Many home owners spend lots of money on things like sophisticated security systems and cameras, etc. but one solution is the Neighborhood Watch, a group of citizens coming together to make a commitment to be vigilant and observant and to do what they can to prevent crimes like vandalism burglary, speeding vehicles and even dumping trash.”

She also noted “there are also many pluses to formation of a Neighborhood Watch group, one being an effective and least costly way to prevent crime and it can also forge strong bonds among residents to improve relations between police and the community they serve.”

Garzone pointed out “there are other countless benefits derived from a Neighborhood Watch group, such as law enforcement officers will learn the needs of their various district neighborhoods, and the attributes and dynamics of their volunteers so they will be able to tailor their activities and responses to meet the ever-changing needs of their citizens.

Now that the group has been formed, it’s up to the nine charter members, as well as other residents, to recruit more members, further increasing participation while also enhancing the quality of life in District 2 and eventually other parts of town.

Anyone who would like further information about Neighborhood Watch, or would like to join the group, has been urged to call Capt. Salvadore, Commander of the Traffic/Special Services Bureau, at (401) 787-3127 or email jsalvadore@johnstonpolice.com.

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