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  Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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Crime Watches Elsewhere (Part II)
By Rick Winterson

     The prior Crime Watch article (January 26 issue) reported on the proceedings during the morning of the meeting on January 21.  This article reports on the afternoon session, where panelists from successful Crime Watches told how they got started.

     The prior article (January 26, 2006) covering the Crime Watch dealt with the first half of the meeting, which lasted from 10 a.m. until noon.  The crowd was unfortunately small, but a lot of information was given out.  Crime statistics and the shockingly low age of first drug use in South Boston (about 12 years old) brought home the problems South Boston is facing.  Questions and answers were serious, and were aimed at solutions and actions.

     During the afternoon, leaders of three successful Crime Watches – two in Jamaica Plain and one in Dorchester – shared their insights.  The clear, overall message was that Crime Watches work, and they work well.  Additional plusses were also mentioned – a sense of neighborhoods pulling together, social events like block parties and barbecues, and so on.

     Brian Mullen and Kevin Barry spoke concerning the Crime Watch in the St. Mark neighborhood in Dorchester.  It started as most Crime Watches seem to start – by talking to neighbors, by connecting.  When one or two people agreed to help on the Crime Watch, one of their assignments was to get a couple of others.  Fairly soon, everyone was on board.

     The need to start small was emphasized.  “One street after another” is how it goes.  There’s no hurry and no deadlines.  Just keep at it.  Even the handicapped and shut-ins can help.

     Rep. Liz Malia echoed the same sentiments about the Child Street area in Jamaica Plain.  She was impressed with how the people in her neighborhood wanted to “connect”.  According to her, there’s a real hunger for that.  The Crime Watches lead to other opportunities for the community to organize, socialize, and empower themselves.   Newcomers to the Neighborhood should be formally welcomed, so they know there’s a local organization to turn to.

     Joseph Porcelli, also from Jamaica Plain, spoke about “Neighbors for Neighbors”.  It’s the “physical presence” that makes a difference – simply having responsible people hanging out and visibly talking to the kids.  The Neighbors for Neighbors group meets at popular spots in Jamaica Plain such as the Milky Way on Center Street.  The most recent get-together (February 1) included meeting neighbors, an update from the police, setting up neighborhood projects, and then more socializing.

     All of the participants from other Crime Watches were extremely upbeat about “getting the neighborhoods back”.  They all agreed that with effective Crime Watches, criminals simply can’t do business, so they leave the neighborhoods.

     Sgt. Bill Meade, the Community Officer from Station C-6 capped off the afternoon by asking that the police be kept informed, and assuring the community of his cooperation.

     There are two major news items to report on South Boston’s Crime watch.  First, the South Boston Crime Watch has a home.  It’s at 490 East Broadway, which was Jim Kelly’s campaign headquarters and prior to that, had been the office of South Boston Online before it moved to 663 East Broadway.

     Second, the second Crime Watch meeting of 2006 is scheduled for Thursday evening, at 6:30 p.m. on February 16, in the South Boston Boys & Girls Club (230 West Sixth Street).  The key topic will be Drug and Alcohol Awareness.  Be sure to attend. 

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