Take a bite out of crime with ‘Dog Walker Watch’
Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Folks out walking their dogs might seem an unlikely crime-fighting force, but that’s exactly the idea of a new program being implemented by the Suffolk Police Department.
The “Dog Walker Watch” program is designed for neighbors who are familiar with their community and out in the neighborhood on a regular basis. Training for it is coming up next week.
“We count on the general public a lot to give us information and provide information on suspicious activity,” said Capt. James Buie of the Suffolk Police Department. “What we ask people to do is be observant. If they see something they believe to be suspicious, call the police department and advise us so we can check it out.”
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Unlike a neighborhood watch-type program, the Dog Walker Watch involves no time commitment other than the upcoming training. It simply asks people to be observant as they go about their regular routines. You don’t even have to have a dog to participate, although walking the dog is a good example of a regular activity that gets folks out in the neighborhood.
Buie said people will learn at the training — set for July 23 at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 442 W. Washington St. — how to observe and report suspicious activity. But they should leave their dogs at home.
“We want to teach them what is suspicious,” Buie said. “We don’t believe people to be suspicious, but people’s behavior to be suspicious.”
Examples of suspicious behavior might be people walking through backyards where they don’t reside or meandering among parked cars without seeming to have a destination, an occupied vehicle sitting in front of a residence that’s not usually there, and so on. Folks will also learn how to give descriptors of clothing and vehicles to police when they call.
“After this training, we’re just asking them to do what they normally do,” Buie said, stressing that community members should not become vigilantes. “We want them just to observe the activity, have their cellphone with them and give us a call. We’re going to teach them how to be safe.”
Buie said the vast majority of crimes are solved with assistance from the public.
“We want the general public to know they’re never a bother to us,” he said. “They can call us anytime, and let us determine if it’s something or if it’s nothing.”
Buie hopes to see a good showing of folks for the training next Thursday, which will include a gift bag and light refreshments.
“We look forward to seeing as many people as possible out there on the 23rd,” he said. “We really need a strong partnership with our community to solve crimes. I can’t tell you how important that is.”
The Dog Walker Watch program is a crime awareness program sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, which also sponsors National Night Out. This year’s National Night Out event is set for Aug. 4, and the theme is “Working Together to Take a Bite out of Crime.” Visit www.suffolknno.com to get more information.