Neighbors band together to fight crime

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 18, 2002

The Kingsboro neighborhood once stood stately with huge old trees and elegant homes dotting the landscape. In the last 15 or 20 years, lifelong residents of the close knit community watched sadly as transitory troublemakers bit by bit chipped away to degrade the neighborhood.

Finally, that proverbial straw….

The neighborhood was fed up once residents learned that a 96-year old gentleman had been robbed four times. And, when they all began talking about it, they all had stories to tell of crimes in their own yards.

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Polly Riddick was born and raised in the house she now lives in, and her family lives in the same neighborhood. She was disgusted by what was happening in Kingsboro.

James Blair is another lifelong resident. He was also up in arms over the desecration of their once beautiful neighborhood.

Donna Perry also lives in Kingsboro and she’s gung-ho to clean the crime from the streets.

Connie Scott and her husband, Darrell, are fairly new to the area but just as fed up as any lifelong resident could get.

Riddick and Blair said they knew something had to be done to reclaim the streets in Kingsboro.

They began to collect names from their neighbors and through the Civic League, they began a movement to establish a &uot;Kingsboro Neighborhood Crime Watch.&uot;

&uot;We began to talk about all that was taking place in the area and almost everyone in Kingsboro had a criminal incident that had happened to them to describe,&uot; said Blair. &uot;Connie Scott got us organized and we began working on it. There are 220 households in Kingsboro and we would like to see every member of the neighborhood join us in the civic league.&uot;

Riddick was the person who collected the names of neighbors for the &uot;telephone tree,&uot; a means of communication between residents and the police. The phone tree helps people stay in touch with each other, not only to report crimes to police but also to check on the elderly and those in need.

Since the crime watch was established, Riddick and Blair and others have kept their eyes open day and night for strangers walking or driving through their neighborhood. Watchers walk at night, and some drive through the area checking it over. A noticeable reduction in crime has occurred.

Now that the phone tree is completed, Suffolk Police Officers John K. Cooke, M.P. Wheeler, J.J. Jackson and other officers of the Community Services Division of the police department will soon install the Neighborhood Watch signage.

Scott said she is grateful to see the community come together to rid the neighborhood of crime. She and her husband have lost plenty to people passing through and picking up whatever they could find to steal. Recently, police recovered a $1,000 grill stolen from their property.

&uot;We moved to Suffolk because we wanted to raise our children here and it seemed like a nice place,&uot; said Scott. &uot;We are working together with Officers Cooke and Jackson and they have been wonderful in helping us get the Neighborhood Watch established.

&uot;This proves that the program works if the neighbors will come together as a unit and work with police with the one goal in mind. We have to take our neighborhoods back from those who would destroy it.&uot;

Cooke said the Neighborhood Watch program has steadily grown since the 1970s, however, in the past few years there has been a greater interest.

&uot;The Neighborhood Watch program is recognized for reducing crime and it’s one of the community’s most effective tools in crime control,&uot; he said. &uot;If there is going to be a change in our neighborhoods, everyone must lend a hand. Each person represents a link in a chain and each must be present to keep the chain strong.&uot;

Cooke added that any civic league, neighborhood group, church or other group may contact him at the Suffolk Police Department at 923-2355 for more information on how to establish a Neighborhood Watch.