Spitzer Presents Neighborhood Watch Awards

New York State Attorney General Spitzer recognized 11 neighborhood and community watch organizations for their efforts to create safer and healthier communities and boost civic pride.

The awards were presented at the Spitzer's Neighborhood Watch Conference during which community leaders, local law enforcement, and neighborhood activists gathered for a series of workshops and information sessions focusing on topics ranging from reducing gang violence to preparing for emergencies in the community to forging relationships with local law enforcement and government leaders.

"These award recipients have sent a clear message that their neighborhood is unified, caring, and organized, and will not tolerate crime, drugs, or violence in their communities," said Spitzer.

The Attorney General's Neighborhood Watch Awards of Excellence were earned by the following groups:

Town of Tonawanda Crime Resistance Executive Board (Erie County)

The Town of Tonawanda Crime Resistance Executive Board serves as the umbrella for the nine Neighborhood Watch groups in the town. The Board consists of a group of volunteers who plan and implement community-wide events.

Through its efforts, the Board fosters strong partnerships with law enforcement, government agencies, local business owners and civic organizations.

Under the Board's leadership, NW groups have conducted consumer seminars, outreach on domestic violence and elder abuse prevention, educational programs on emergency preparedness and Internet safety and workshops on health care issues.

Champlain Street/Frost Avenue/Iceland Park Block Club (Monroe County)

For the past twenty-two years, the Champlain Street/Frost Avenue/Iceland Park Block Club has focused on preventing crime and creating a safer and healthier community. This group works closely with the Rochester Fire Department, Rochester Police Department, Neighborhood Empowerment Team/Genesee Street (NET), the Parks and Recreation Department and human services agencies to enhance the quality of life and encourage communication and cooperation.

Block Club associates undergo emergency training and can be relied on to respond in cases of major disasters. In addition, the Club members believe in proactive measures where community concerns are raised with the police department before they become major problems and work to find solutions.

In 2006, the group is once again planning to organize a National Night Out Motorcade where volunteers pick up and drop off participants at designated areas in order to have everyone in the community take part in the event. The program will feature a "Going Away Party Against Crime and Drugs."

Irondequoit Crime Prevention Coalition (Monroe County)

Since 1993, the Irondequiot Crime Prevention Coalition (ICPC) has grown to include approximately 25 NW groups. The Coalition collaborates with government agencies, local businesses and community organizations to promote crime prevention and raise awareness.

For the last eight years, ICPC has been responsible for organizing the annual National Night Out rally against crime. The event has been expanded to honor community members and police personnel who have made significant contributions in the area of crime prevention. The group also produces a newsletter in which residents learn how best to report and prevent crimes.

Southwest Sector 4 Court Watch Program (Monroe County)

The Court Watch Program was formed after 13 residents decided to follow the court proceedings of 13 individuals who had been arrested on narcotics charges by the Rochester Police Department. The program empowers communities who may feel uninformed and helpless. It emphasizes community participation by identifying and tracking the court dispositions of repeat criminal offenders in street-level sale and distribution of drugs, prostitution and other quality of life crimes. Cases involving violations of probation are also closely monitored in collaboration with the Rochester Police Department and the Monroe County District Attorney's Office. Volunteer watch members receive updates from the police lieutenant at the Neighborhood Empowerment Team office and follow cases that are scheduled to appear in court.

The program currently carries a caseload of 60 but has monitored a total of 141 cases since its inception. To encourage expansion, the organization created a power point presentation on "How to Court Watch," accompanied by a training manual and CD for crime prevention groups.

Johnson City Neighborhood Watch Group (Broome County)

The Johnson City Neighborhood Watch Group (JCNWG), with the local police, has helped to create a safer community and improved the quality of life for City residents.

JCNWG has grown dramatically in terms of both number, with over a thousand members participating, and involvement in activities. In response to a gang problem affecting public parks, members of the JCNWG organized and patrolled Boland Park ridding it of the gang activity that was preventing residents from enjoying summer activities.

In addition, JCNWG seeks to cultivate an informed community and encourage civic involvement by maintaining a website where it posts crime alerts to advise residents of car break-ins, burglaries, gang activity and crimes against the elderly and neighborhood projects, and by handing out informational bulletins.

Trafford and Savitch Road Neighborhood Watch (Broome County)

The Trafford and Savitch Road Neighborhood Watch was formed five years ago as a result of drug activity and vandalism in the community. Many of its volunteer meetings focus on issues of concern, including drug dealing, properly reporting a crime and how to remain informed after reporting suspicious activity to the police.

Their annual summer picnic unites community members and provides safety information from the Sheriff's office. The program has also featured fingerprinting for children and canine dog demonstrations.

City of Rome's Neighborhood Watch – Association of Block Coalitions (ABC) - (Oneida County)

Since 2002, the City of Rome Neighborhood Watch Group has emphasized the proactive nature of residents. Meetings and community projects conducted by the various ward watch groups are more frequent and turnout and involvement has increased. Collaboration among various stakeholders, including educators, libraries and community-based organizations has been pursued.

Members have attended the police department's Civilian Police Academy where volunteers gain knowledge about police procedures, criminal laws and code enforcement, evidence preservation and collection, and criminal and accident investigations.

Watch members joined with law enforcement to participate in a "CSI" scenario to understand how police investigate a crime scene. Additionally, members have been pursuing a Weed and Seed strategy engaging local businesses, addressing restoration projects and working on youth development and safety initiatives.

Utica Weed and Seed Program, Home Ownership Center (Oneida County)

Though this group of volunteers first met in 1998, they were officially recognized as the Utica Weed & Seed in 2002 with the Home Ownership Center receiving designation from the federal government as the lead agency of this effort. Since then, they have been fighting and preventing violent and drug-related crimes and creating a safer and healthier community for their neighbors.

The Utica Weed and Seed Program has an extensive list of on-going activities involving law enforcement, community policing, gang intervention and suppression, crime prevention outreach, neighborhood restoration and youth development. Among their most notable accomplishments are the Children's Apparel Program where $300,000 of children's clothing were donated by businesses and distributed to 26 agencies in time for the back-to-school season, the Weed & Seed Community Job Fair, attracting over 39 employers and 375 participants, and the Citizens' Police Academy.

Schenectady Neighborhood Watch (Schenectady County)

During the late 1970's, a group of seven individuals formed the Schenectady Neighborhood Watch (SNW) to increase community awareness of crime and empower fellow residents. Since then, the group has grown to involve over 300 members, covering the entire City of Schenectady.
Members of the SNW participate in various projects and organize workshops on issues such as crimes against the elderly and children. As a result, the group has created a senior program where members conduct monthly visits to over 200 senior citizens who have no one to look after them and provide appropriate referrals for those in need of social services. In addition, members of SNW participate in the Child Find program. In 2005, the Child Find alert was activated 92 times, resulting in the identification of 70 children. The remaining 22 returned home on their own or were located by the police.

Long Beach Auxiliary Police (Nassau County)

For over 50 years, the Long Beach Auxiliary Police (LBAP) has drawn hundreds of members of the community from all walks of life into volunteer public service.

In the last five years, membership has increased to 40 trained and certified part time peace officers who conduct nightly patrols throughout the City reporting any suspicious or illegal activity directly to the Police Department. In addition, the LBAP assists the Police and Fire Departments at crime scenes and emergency situations. They make it possible for major events, including parades, festivals and walks to take place in the City by assisting with traffic and crowd control. The current members of the LBAP have accumulated over 70,000 hours of community service.

The NorthEast Bronx Association, Inc. (Bronx)

The NorthEast Bronx Association, Inc. (NEBA) was formed in 2000 to preserve and enhance the quality of life within the community. Its civilian mobile patrol and block watchers program is a late night/early morning (11 pm to 2 am) operation, staffed by neighborhood volunteers in conjunction with the 49th and 47th police precincts and police assigned to the NYCTA.