Neighborhood Watch Groups Cited For Achievements
Attorney General Spitzer today announced achievement awards to 13 Neighborhood Watch organizations from across New York in a ceremony at Albany.
"These groups, and others like them across the state, dedicate themselves to making our neighborhoods safer and more secure," said Attorney General Spitzer. "Because of their unflagging commitment, our communities are better places for children and families, for senior citizens, for all of us. On behalf on all New Yorkers, I applaud their efforts."
Neighborhood Watch groups deter crime not only by using traditional approaches such as foot and car patrols, but also by focusing on quality of life issues that can enhance neighborhoods. Therefore, it is not unusual for watch groups to work on housing issues, sponsor youth programs and after-school activities for children, or become involved in local economic development initiatives - all in an effort to create safe communities and instill a sense of pride in residents.
The Attorney General's Neighborhood Watch Awards of Excellence for 2001 were earned by:
United Neighbors of Binghamton: Broome County
United Neighbors of Binghamton works to unite homeowners, landlords, tenants, business owners, community-based organizations and law enforcement to foster the formation and continuation of neighborhood watch groups throughout the City of Binghamton.
UNB undertakes various projects including city-wide informational forums on crime prevention, environmental conservation, public works, code enforcement and landlord training and a "Clean-Up Day." To ensure the success of this event, UNB supplies the tools, provides technical and public relations assistance to community-based organizations and coordinates the pick-up and disposal of the trash with the public works department.
UNB has continued to spearhead "Binghamton's Night Out Against Drugs and Crime." Over the past six years, the program has evolved into celebrations being held a nine different sites around the city. Nearly 6,000 people attended this year's event, promoted as a "going away party for neighborhood crime and drugs," where there was food, music, crime prevention and safety information, car displays, games and karate demonstrations.
Association of Block Coalitions: Oneida County
The Association of Block Coalitions sponsored and coordinated by the HomeOwnership Center was formed in 1994 to organize neighborhood watch groups in Utica, connect residents with various community organizations and encourage collaboration to prevent problems from arising. The program began with 15 neighborhood blocks participating. Over the years, more than 175 block associations in the City and County have been formed.
With ABC involvement, "Neighborhood Zero Tolerance Sweeps" against drug dealers are reducing the incidence of crime in many communities. To further fight the problem of drugs, the Association has been supportive of the Attorney General's Clean Sweep case in Utica. Neighborhood cleanups, annual paint can pickups, block parties and youth initiatives are among the projects ABC sponsors to improve the quality of life and promote community spirit.
Currently, this group is working to create a Weed and Seed site in Utica.
Spring Valley Neighborhood Watch Organization: Rockland County
Using two-way radios and flashlights, volunteers in the Spring Valley Neighborhood Watch Organization patrol their neighborhood streets nightly. Formed just two years ago, the watch group has accomplished much in this short period of time. Working closely with law enforcement, the volunteers were instrumental in closing down two houses of prostitution. Their hard work also resulted in obtaining better lighting in areas that were known for drug activity, helping to eradicate drug dealing in certain areas of the community.
The organization arranges for "Drug Free Zone" signs to be installed near all schools and daycare centers in Spring Valley and conducts apartment complex security surveys. To foster community spirit and unity, this crime prevention group holds block parties, barbecues, lunches with local business leaders and rallies.
Southern New Rochelle Neighborhood Crime Watch: Westchester County
Organized in the Summer of 2000, the Southern New Rochelle Neighborhood Crime Watch has improved the quality of life in its neighborhood by helping stop burglaries, robberies, drug dealing, excessive noise, littering and code violations. As a direct result of its efforts, a primary drug dealer was arrested and five public pay phones used primarily for drug sales were removed. The watch uses a combination of foot and car patrols and "window watchers" or home-bound senior citizens, students and store and building owners to document and report suspicious activity and other problems to the police and city officials.
Working with merchants and houses of worship, the group has improved lighting and fencing in various districts and enhanced the physical appearance of several properties. In addition to code enforcement, this crime prevention group also works to advance pedestrian safety in the community.
Neighborhood Watch Coalition: Chautauqua County
The Neighborhood Watch Coalition of Jamestown was formed in 1996 to facilitate activity planning and information sharing among various neighborhood watch groups. Thirty active neighborhood watch groups are part of the Coalition.
The Neighborhood Watch Coalition has gained distinction in the Jamestown community for spearheading various citywide projects. Coalition members joined with police officers, fire fighters and other volunteers to paint over graffiti on bridges located within the city. For the "Toys for Healing and Nurturing Kids' Spirits" program, coalition activists have been collecting stuffed toys to be distributed to children who have been the victim or witness of violence. Some of the donations will be forwarded to the children directly affected by the terrorists' acts on September 11.
Additionally, coalition members staff information tables at the Public Safety Week mall shows and at Labor Day festivals and conduct "walk abouts" to offer support and problem-solving ideas to neighborhood residents and business owners.
Collaborating with other community-based organizations, the coalition has participated in the National Night Out program, the "Race Against Racism," food drives, and recycling awareness campaigns.
New Hyde Park Civilian Patrol, Inc.: Nassau County
Formed in 1983 in the basement of a house, the New Hyde Park Civilian Patrol covers the villages of Garden City Park, Floral Park Centre, Herricks and New Hyde Park. Sixty volunteers patrol the streets with hand-held radios and report any unusual incidents to the Nassau County Police Department. They also provide free transportation for seniors to and from their medical appointments.
This year, the group sponsored a "National Night Out" program, which began with a motorcade. The event, which was attended by more than 200 residents, also featured information and music.
Members of this patrol also provide assistance to and share expertise with their neighbors in Franklin Square. During its 18 years of operation, the New Hyde Park Civilian Patrol Inc. has received numerous awards and honors from local, county and state public agencies.
Crime Prevention Association of Western New York Inc.
Formed in 1987, the Crime Prevention Association of Western New York Inc. assists in establishing and promoting crime prevention programs and services in Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Cataraugus, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Orleans and Allegany Counties, the Cities of Buffalo, Amherst and Cheektowaga and smaller communities of Blasdell, Tonawanda and Lackawanna. The association's membership includes law enforcement, civilians, educators and neighborhood leaders.
CPA provides training seminars and courses in crime prevention through environmental design, sponsors safety fairs and conferences, promotes the annual Race Against Crime, and coordinates National Night Out activities throughout the region.
Town of Tonawanda Police Citizen Mobile Eye Patrol: Erie County
In operation for over 20 years, the Mobile Eye Patrol, with 50 patrollers using their own vehicles and covering their own expenses, reports suspicious or crime-friendly conditions to the police.
In each shift, between two and eight cars patrol the town. During one recent month, the volunteers patrolled over 800 miles in an effort to keep their communities safe. The patrollers also provide special attention to the homes of residents who are either away on vacation or attending the funeral of a family member, and assist in the search for missing children.
The Mobile Eye Patrol is overseen by the Town of Tonawanda Crime Resistance Executive Board, composed of representatives of all the town's neighborhood watch groups.
Sunset-Shaw-Avery-Watson Neighborhood Association: Oneida County
This organization, originally formed as a watch group in September of 1995, became an association in 1998 with a broader mission. The Sunset-Shaw-Avery-Watson Neighborhood Association endeavors to eliminate crime, restore and preserve properties and encourage the development of a safe, friendly and attractive neighborhoods. The group works closely with government officials, law enforcement, the parks and codes departments, and public utilities.
The association sponsors neighborhood spruce up days and park clean-ups and distributes a quarterly newsletter. This year, the group also organized a "Picnic in the Park" which not only included games and free food, but also a bike safety course and free inspections of every child's bicycle.
Van Schaick Island Neighborhood Watch: Albany County
Formed in 2000, the Van Schaick Island Neighborhood Watch has made great strides in advancing safety in the City of Cohoes.
The group distributes over 500 copies of a monthly newsletter. A core group of 20 volunteers acts as street leaders and block captains. In addition to various civic projects, this group sponsored and successfully held its first "National Night Out" event with assistance from local businesses. Hundreds of neighborhood residents and visitors enjoyed free food, pony and hay rides, music and safety demonstrations.
Hillcrest Neighborhood Preservation Association: Rockland County
Starting with only a handful of residents in 1997,the Hillcrest Neighborhood Preservation Association, in the Town of Ramapo, has grown to nearly 300 members with the help of strong leadership.
In addition to conducting a watch program, the association works closely with the police department and other governmental agencies to solve complaints ranging from youth loitering to community beautification. The "Art Receptacle for Trash" (ART) project sponsored by the association is a unique undertaking combining art, youth participation and neighborhood beautification. Students from East Ramapo School District painted twenty-six trash bins placed strategically throughout Hillcrest and other parts of the town thanks to the cooperative efforts of the police department, local government officials and businesses. As a result of this innovative effort, littering has decreased and community pride increased.
Northend Neighborhood Watch: Warren County
The Northend Neighborhood Watch in Glen Falls was established in May of 2000. In this short time, the program has had a visible affect on the community. Thus far, 26 people are working on the patrol in cooperation with local police bike and cruiser surveillance. The group has been credited with achieving a decline in the vandalism at the Glens Falls Cemetery. Finally, as a result of Northend Neighborhood Watch, the first City "National Night Out," event, featuring crime prevention information, emergency vehicles, and games, was held in the downtown park.
Champlain Street/Frost Avenue/Iceland Park Block Club: Monroe County
Established in 1984, the Champlain Street/Frost Avenue/Iceland Park Block Club has played an active role in reducing crime in an area with one of the highest crime rates in Rochester. The group has implemented a neighborhood watch program, provided volunteer staffing to the Rochester Police Department, initiated a safety program for seniors, distributed Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, and organized the annual "National Night Out" observance. The block club works closely with police officials, schools, human service agencies and area residents to increase awareness and support for crime reduction strategies.
Award winners and honorable mention recipients were selected by the Attorney General's Office based on submissions received from participating Neighborhood Watch groups. These submissions included a brief history of the organization, a list of programs the group has undertaken and an accounting of how the programs have strengthened neighborhoods. The entry packets also contained letters of reference from local officials. Winning Neighborhood Watch groups were able to demonstrate constructive collaboration with other community organizations or institutions, such as faith groups, law enforcement, tenants and landlords, the business community, or arts and civic beautification groups.
The Neighborhood Watch Award of Excellence Program is coordinated by Mindy Bockstein, the Attorney General's Crime Victims Advocate.