Neighborhood Watch formed in Herlong
Revitalization committee co-chairmen Jim Swistowicz and John Everett said the focus of the meeting was to elicit feedback from the community as well as get some input about what kind of law enforcement protection the community gets. Deputies John Bohl and Dean Growden from the Lassen County Sheriff’s department were at the meeting to answer questions from local residents.
Growden said the Neighborhood Watch program would be an ideal way for the Herlong community to contribute to the sheriff’s department.
Everett said that as far as criminal activity in the community, many people have seen a suspicious white pick-up truck at various times in the community. While no one present at the meeting knew the people who owned the truck, a few of the present community members, including Everett, had observed the truck and its passenger’s parked at residences in the process of loading up items in a burglary attempt. While there have been times when the truck and its unidentified passengers have been scared away by the presence of others a couple times, they haven’t been caught yet.
“We need to help take our streets back from the people that want our stuff we earned through hard work,” Everett said.
Growden and Bohl explained that one of the most important parts of helping the community would be through details. While he recommended other alternatives first, he also gave some pointers about how to make a citizen’s arrest. Growden said more than anything, however, he wanted people to know the sheriff’s department didn’t want vigilantism, it wanted details.
“We try and be as responsive as we can, and as safe as we can,” Growden said. “An integral part of the Sheriff’s department is the neighborhood watch program. Because there’s only one of me. You’re greatest asset is your neighbor. As much as I’d want to, I’m probably not going to be right out in front of your house when it catches fire. But no matter what, you neighbor’s always going to be there.”
He said the program is about members of a community coming together to protect each other, not just in keeping an eye out for trespassers, but in supporting victims of past crimes. People coming together to help out someone who was assaulted or burglarized is another part that is equally important in the program.
Another issue that Everett brought up was how vandalism at Herlong High School was at a ridiculously high level. He said teachers and staff at the school are dealing with broken items on an almost weekly basis, and people need to chip in and help in keeping an eye on the school. Everett himself said he has patrolled through the town at night. Everett said even his son had the speakers stolen out of his car, and he was tired of seeing crime run rampant.
Growden addressed concerns community members had on criminals knowing when deputies weren’t on patrol. Growden said one of his goals at the department was to improve the level of service in the Herlong area of the county, which he said Sheriff Steve Warren agreed with. In the meantime, Bohl said it made the neighborhood watch even more crucial, as much of the responsibility would remain with the community at odd hours of the night.
At the end of the meeting, people interested on serving the neighborhood watch committee were asked to come forward. The committee will work in conjunction with the revitalization committee, yet have a separate meeting schedule.
The revitalization committee meets in the multi-purpose room of the base chapel near the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong every other Thursday at 6:30 p.m. their next meeting is on Thursday, Oct. 2.
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