‘We are watching you’

Published 8:53 pm Monday, July 14, 2014

For our money, Suffolk has some of the finest law enforcement professionals in the commonwealth. As a group, their level of dedication and determination to make Suffolk a safer place cannot be beat, and among the fruits of that dedication is the fact that Suffolk’s crime rate is among the lowest in Hampton Roads.

But even the best police force cannot be completely successful in eliminating crime without the help of the citizens of the community it serves. And Suffolk’s citizens have a long history of effective partnership with the police department to do just that. The city’s popular and very successful National Night Out programs, which attract thousands of civilian participants across Suffolk on the first Tuesday of August each year, prove just how engaged the community is with the effort to reduce crime.

This year’s National Night Out will be a special one in this regard, as it will feature the official launch of the West End-Lakeside Civic League’s neighborhood watch program, which is designed to help raise awareness among residents of the benefits to be had from looking out for one another. Perhaps even more important is the message the civic league is sending to criminals who might be thinking of causing trouble in those neighborhoods: “We’re watching you.”

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Members of the civic league started talking last year about how to reduce crime in their community, and they soon realized the answer went beyond asking for more help from the police. Once they had decided to see how they could shoulder some of the burden, the neighborhood watch became an obvious solution. But there have been other efforts, too, such as working with railroad company CSX to plug holes in the fence along the railroad tracks bordering part of the neighborhood.

National Night Out will provide a fitting launch party for the new neighborhood watch program, as the Aug. 5 event focuses on connecting neighbors and helping them to empower their neighborhoods to fight the criminals that would prey on them.

And this year, the empowered neighbors in West End and Lakeside will join their voices to say this: “We’re watching.”