Watching out for crime

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 30, 2005

Early in the spring, Chuck Fisher discovered how far some people would go to be destructive.

Pulling into Coulbourn Park one night, the chairman of the Kingsboro neighborhood’s Civic League Crimewatch program saw that a group of people had actually lifted up one of the picnic tables and put it on the roof of the shelter, tearing off some shingles. Not only that, but the benches had been scratched and defaced with spray paint.

&uot;That just set me off,&uot; Fisher remembers. &uot;Right then, I was thinking, ‘Oh no, this crap’s not happening.’&uot;

Email newsletter signup

The next day, Fisher went out and bought some signs for his Mitsubishi truck, declaring it the Watch’s official vehicle. He, league president Donna Perry and others started patrolling the neighborhood, which runs from the Nansemond River to Pinner Street. Perry went through the Citizen’s Police Academy, which teaches locals about police work.

&uot;We’re still working leads on who did this,&uot; he says at Coulbourn, indicating the still-damaged roof. &uot;This is the kind of stuff we want to stop. That’s why I patrol, and I have the police on speed-dial.&uot;

A cell phone dangling from his dashboard, the handyman hops into his truck and starts patrolling, which he does several times a day.

&uot;If we get a call saying that something’s going on in the park, we come out and check on it,&uot; he says. &uot;We call the police, and we work with them. We listen to the scanner 24-7.&uot;

Heading up the street, he doubles back behind the shopping center on Constance Road.

&uot;This is a troubled spot,&uot; he says. &uot;It’s used for access by people who are coming out of the neighborhood, and they often sit back here drinking liquor and other alcohol. The managers are very appreciative of us; sometimes, we come by and wait until they close up and are safely in their cars.&uot;

Recently, Perry rode past a car dealership on Pinner Street and noticed some individuals breaking in and stealing cars, he says. Crimewatch volunteers have helped police apprehend people who have stolen things from the Fresh Pride supermarket, and from other stores in the area. There was a drug bust at a home off Constance Road.

&uot;We’re very involved in lighting,&uot; he says. &uot;We let businesses and homeowners know about areas near them that need lights, which is very important.

&uot;There are some areas that we don’t go into,&uot; he says. &uot;Some places, the police just don’t want us going. But you’d be surprised at the visibility of this vehicle. We patrol Lakeside and Riverview and the people are happy to see us. It makes people feel safer.&uot;

Both the police department and the Commonwealth Attorney’s office have helped out the Crimewatch when needed, he continues.

&uot;Suffolk has the finest police officers in the Hampton Roads area,&uot; he says. &uot;They’re very concerned about the community and the welfare of their citizens.&uot;

Like the officers themselves, Crimewatch volunteers are never sure what they’ll see, he continues.

&uot;It can be a little frightening patrolling,&uot; he says. &uot;We’re very close with the dispatchers; they know that when we call, we need them to come to a scene. In this day and time, we don’t know if the people we have a gun, but it’s not going to stop us in keeping our community safe.

&uot;Crime is down,&uot; he vows, &uot;and it’s going to continue to be down. We’re not going to tolerate the destruction of property. If people come into our neighborhood that don’t live there and start trouble, we’re going to investigate. As a civic league, we have the authority to have people removed. We’ve never had to do it, but we have the authority.&uot;