Neighborhoods unite to fight crime
HOUSTON The idea to centralize the neighborhood watch programs began after homeowners started to see more tagging and graffiti in certain neighborhoods. They associated it with gang activity. It prompted them to take a different kind of approach toward protecting their community. "I'm almost like this little area's community watch," homeowner Damon Barone said. That's because Barone has had his sense of security rattled one too many times. This Forest View homeowner once shot an intruder and recently had his truck broken into. "Everything was ransacked through and they had stolen my iPod but left my daughter's movies. They were nice enough to leave my daughter's movies," he said. As law enforcement grapples with budget cuts and manpower shortages, homeowners in the greater Mission Bend area have realized that tackling crime is a battle police can no longer fight alone. "I think they are glad to see us taking this on," Greater Mission Bend Area Council Prsident Mike Martin said. The Greater Mission Bend Area Council, which consists of several HOAs, has created a central, community-wide neighborhood watch program. It would replace the current network of loosely connected neighborhood programs. "It's all about maintaining the quality of your neighborhood. As people feel secure in a neighborhood they are more likely to want to live there, to raise their children there, to go to the schools," Martin said. A few HOAs have already started recruiting members who will eventually be trained by local law enforcement. "I think a lot of people will feel safer," homeowner Wil Romero said. Such a program could go a long way towards restoring the sense of security that homeowners, like Barone, have been robbed of. "To have something structured I think will be beneficial to the city, the community and the area around," Barone said. While it could take another couple of years to get this community neighborhood watch program up to full speed, the rest of this year will be spent on getting all of the HOA's in the area on board and getting key people identified and trained.