‘Dog Walker Watch’ training set

Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A training session for the city’s “Dog Walker Watch” program will take place next week.

The name is somewhat of a misnomer, as you don’t actually have to own a dog to participate. But the program will train community members to recognize suspicious activity while they go about their daily activities — walking their dogs, for example — and to report it to police.

“What I have noticed is I see people out and about more,” Suffolk Police Department Capt. James Buie said. “We do receive a lot of support from our community. We do get a lot of calls from people noticing suspicious vehicles and suspicious activity.”

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The program debuted last year and is designed for people who are already out and about anyway to become more involved. The program requires no commitment beyond a person’s regular routine, but additional physical activity and perhaps adoptions of dogs couldn’t hurt.

“It’s such a good and simple program,” Buie said. “It’s something we all unconsciously do anyway. I want people to pay attention when they’re out walking their dog, jogging, shopping.”

Buie said the program does not encourage vigilante justice but simply for people to call police about suspicious activity once they get to a safe place.

“Let us determine if it’s right or if it’s wrong,” Buie said. “It may lead to investigation and arrest of serial crimes that have taken place. It may be nothing, but it very well may be everything.”

Buie said citizens shouldn’t be afraid of “bothering the police” by making a call about possible suspicious activity.

He also noted it could help neighbors get to know each other, which also is a good deterrent to crime.

“It’s the perfect opportunity to meet our neighbors,” he said.

The Dog Walker Watch program training session will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Council chambers, 442 W. Washington St.

Door prizes will be available, and light refreshments will be served. While pet owners are encouraged to attend, they are asked to leave their dogs at home for the training.

The Dog Walker Watch program is a crime awareness program sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, which also sponsors National Night Out.

National Night Out this year takes place on Aug. 2. Residents in neighborhoods across Suffolk are being asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights, and spend the evening outdoors with neighbors and police.

For more information on how to get involved with the Dog Walker Watch program, call Buie at 514-7960. For more information on Suffolk’s National Night Out celebration, call Diana Klink at 514-4104, or visit www.suffolknno.com.