Plans underway for neighborhood watch in Jewett City

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Tue., Jul. 30, 2013
Lenny Bermudez, of Montville, skateboards in the Jewett City skate park on Hill Street. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.
Lenny Bermudez, of Montville, skateboards in the Jewett City skate park on Hill Street. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.

Plans are afoot to organize a neighborhood watch for Jewett City in an effort to curb crime and improve the quality of life in the downtown area. A July 22 meeting with townspeople and Griswold’s resident state troopers got the ball rolling, and efforts to continue organizing are expected to continue throughout the summer.

During the past few years, Jewett City has seen incidents of vandalism at the skateboard park and Little League field at Veterans’ Memorial Park. Businesses have also reported break-ins and thefts. The borough is currently served by two resident state troopers, Trooper Jeffrey McCarthy and Trooper Mark Boulanger, filling in for Trooper Adam Chittick, who is currently deployed in the military.

Borough Warden Alan Geer said he believed the neighborhood watch would be a positive force in the community and would help the resident troopers keep a handle on local crime. “I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “You’ve got to try to control your destiny here.” He said that previous attempts to organize a watch met with little success because there was “no continuity of people attending the meetings.” He expressed hope that a larger number of residents would turn out for a projected Aug. 19 meeting, with time and place to be determined, to help solidify plans.

Geer said that plans for organizing the watch include appointing captains who could field calls from residents who wish to report suspicious behavior or situations. He said the captains would serve as intermediaries between townspeople and the state troopers. This could help overcome the problem of residents being afraid of reporting potential problems due to fear of retaliation, he said.

Ricky Bevis, supervisor for the Griswold Youth Center, said that troopers at the meeting stressed the importance of “If you see something, say something.”

“Don’t be afraid or think that you’re going too far to report something,” she said. Those who attended the meeting are “very involved and very excited about starting this up in this community. They want to get more people on the neighborhood watch.”

Bevis said that the troopers “truly care about the community” and offered very specific answers to residents’ questions at the meeting.

“Neighborhood watches are cool,” said Dan Aurand, who lives in Ashland Manor. As a former resident of a larger city, he said his perception of Jewett City was that it was a friendly community and “there’s not really much crime here.” Even so, he said, a neighborhood watch could “get people to know each other in the community.”

By contrast, another resident of Ashland Road, who asked that her name not be used, said she saw suspicious activity on a regular basis, which she believed is related to drug dealing. She reported seeing people stop by neighbors’ houses and leave after just a few minutes, and “people out late over by the water” in Veterans’ Park. The activity made her concerned for the safety of her young son. As a relatively new resident of the borough, “I have higher expectations,” she said. “This is a nice street. A neighborhood watch would be wonderful.”

Trooper McCarthy could not be reached for comment before press time.

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