The Neighborhood Watch group met Thursday night with more than double the amount of citizen participation than their annual meeting in 2013.
The group struggled last year with a lack of funding as well as a lack of citizen participation.
But over the past few months, things have gotten much better for the citizen team, with the Columbia Police Officer in charge of them even saying it’s been a “total turnaround.”
“We’ve had a lot of people reaching out to start their own neighborhood watch groups and we’ve been funded by the city – they gave us $6,000!” Officer Melvin Buckner said.
Last year, 15 citizens showed up to the annual meeting. Thursday, nearly 40 came. And the group has also grown by two board members.
It’s participation both police and board members agree will help curb the crime in Columbia.
“Police can show up 5, 10, 15 minutes after something happens, but we as a neighborhood watch can be there 5, 10, 15 mins before,” new board member Bill Pauls said. “And we can prevent it, just with our eyes and ears!”
Officer Buckner said there is proof the the neighborhood watch group is working.
“The map shows that in the neighborhoods where we have a neighborhood watch we have reduced crimes and we don’t have those hotspots in those areas,” he said.
The watch holds training sessions throughout the year to teach citizens what to look out for and how to keep their neighborhoods safe. To attend those trainings, visit their website at: http://columbianeighborhoodwatch.org/ .