Portsmouth citizens are working to take back their community.
Karen Hill, spokesperson for the Mound Park Neighborhood Watch program, explained that the group started in early October when she and her neighbors were sitting outside talking about crime taking place near their homes. At that point, they decided it was time for them to take action to clean up their community.
“There were five of us that were sitting around one day. We had had three incidents happen just in our neighborhood within like a two week period,” Hill stated.
Hill explained that she grew up in the community and has lived in her home since the 1990s. On Oct. 2, someone tried to break into her home. Within a few days, someone successfully broke into a neighbor’s house. And, within just a few more days, members of this group witnessed a person trying to break into an empty house also in the neighborhood.
“We’ve got to take out city back, and the only way to do that is to get people interested in a neighborhood watch program,” Hill stated.
Hill explained that she contacted the Portsmouth Police and spoke with Chief Rob Ware, who has been supporting her efforts. She has also been connecting with other like-minded individuals through social media. The Mound Park Neighborhood Watch has also been working with City officials, who Hill says have also been supportive.
During Monday night’s City Council meeting, Hill informed the City that the community watch has a meeting planned for Sunday afternoon and would appreciate the attendance of Council members and the City Manager.
“We want our neighborhood safe again,” she stressed. “We’re not trying to be vigilantes. We’re trying to be observant.”
Though the neighborhood watch program focuses on the Mound Park area, Hill says the group is hoping to inspire others. Since starting the neighborhood watch, Hill says she has connected with a neighborhood watch group in the Notre Dame High School Area. She has also connected with community members from other parts of the City who are interested in learning how to start their own neighborhood watch group.
“Thieves don’t have boundaries. We can help each other,” Hill stated. “Even though, we have a neighborhood watch, and Notre Dame has a neighborhood watch, they may have things that filter down to us and vice versa.”
Thus, a goal of this program is to connect community members and get them working together. As part of this effort, she explained that anyone who is interested is invited to attend the meeting on Sunday, even if they don’t live in the Mound Park area. Hill explained that Ware or another officer with the Portsmouth Police Department will be present at the meeting to explained how to start an official community watch group and how to work within the law.
“We’re trying to be a group of neighbors working to help law enforcement because they can’t be everywhere all the time,” Hill stated.
She further clarified that when the group sees a crime happening, they do not try to stop the crime themselves. Rather, they notify police that a crime is ongoing. Hill added that several members of the group have security cameras and are willing to release footage to assist police officers in catching criminals and cleaning up the streets of Portsmouth.
Hill explained that she was thankful for Ware and for Councilman Jim Kalb, who has assisted the group by allowing them use of the building at Mound Park.
The Mound Park Area Neighborhood Watch will have their informational session at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19 at the building at Mound Park. Additional information can be found on the group’s Facebook page.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.