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Columbia Neighborhood Watch: funds helping program fight crime

Columbia’s Neighborhood Watch program is having an impact on high crime areas in the city, according to the program’s organizers.

The president of Neighborhood Watch said having resources now that it didn’t have a year ago has been a huge factor.

“A year ago when we last talked, we had four members on the board total, so we had five open positions,” Neighborhood Watch President Greg Reed told ABC 17 News. “That staffing issue from last year has changed dramatically, and then the funding.”

The city council awarded funding to the Neighborhood Watch program for the first time since 2009 after ABC 17’s story first aired over a year ago.

The board now has $5,000 a year for the next five years. Reed said that money goes toward advertising to get the community involved and more training opportunities, which means reducing crime in problem areas.

“Our next training is at Derby Ridge, and that has been a hot spot in the last couple years for the city,” Reed said. “You know, it’s those areas that have the highest turnout at these things, so I’ve got to believe there has been an impact.”

In the last year, Columbia police were dispatched to the Derby Ridge neighborhood 604 times. But Reed said problem neighborhoods have become more involved in the program over the last year.

Some state lawmakers are working to pass a bill that would set aside state money to help Neighborhood Watch programs all over Missouri.

“We know that Neighborhood Watch organizations work,” said Senator Jamilah Nasheed, the bill’s sponsor. “It reduces crime drastically.”

The proposed bill would allocate up to $10 million to various Neighborhood Watch programs statewide, with high crime areas taking priority.

Reed said additional resources from the state would allow the group to reach more areas of Columbia.

“More trainings, more individualized trainings, getting out to student housing areas that we’ve never scratched the surface of in terms of educating them,” he said.

The next Neighborhood Watch training session in Columbia is at Derby Ridge Elementary School on Wednesday, March 11. Click here to sign up.

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