The Alhambra Police Department emphasized the role of citizens in maintaining a safe community at its annual Neighborhood Watch Block Captain’s Meeting last Thursday at the Alhambra Library.
Alhambra Police Chief Mark Yokoyama said that Neighborhood Watch, a volunteer citizens group devoted to ensuring community safety, is critical to policing efforts. He encouraged the more than 40 attendees to train their friends and neighbors in crime prevention techniques and get them involved in the program.
“Where there is a good, active Neighborhood Watch program, calls for service can rise because the relationship between police and the community is better, and the community feels comfortable calling the police,” said Chief Yokoyama.
The city has 3,800 registered Neighborhood Watch members and 248 Block Captains, who have added organizing responsibilities and act as liaisons to the police department. According to Officer Sharon Fresca-Williams of the Crime Prevention and Neighborhood Watch Office, the program has added 25 new Neighborhood Watch groups in Alhambra since the last Block Captain meeting.
At the meeting, the department presented crime statistics that parallel downward trends across the state. Serious crimes in Alhambra continue declining, with lower rates each year since 2006. Most notably, robbery and auto theft numbers in 2010 were more than 40% lower than they were in 2006, and have seen double-digit percentage drops in 2011.
One ongoing issue is people taking recyclables from residents' recycling containers, noted Officer Fresca-Williams. Although officers issue citations, the courts are dismissing them. She recommends taking out the bins in the morning when the recycling is picked up, instead of the prior evening.
Moving forward, the department would like to incorporate more technology into Neighborhood Watch. While it is already utilizing email for communications and distributing a newsletter, a web-based system, such as an intranet, could facilitate more interaction between the department and Neighborhood Watch members.
Chief Yokoyama would also like to increase awareness of and participation in the program. “Crime is low, but the declines are not sustainable and eventually will go up. There are only 7-10 officers on patrol per shift, and we need an active Neighborhood Watch,” he said.
For more information on the Neighborhood Watch program, contact Officer Fresca-Williams at (626) 570-5177.