Officers become teachers in fight against crime

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2007

FRANKLIN—Citizens learned how to do their part in the fight against crime during the latest special combined meeting of wards 3, 4 and 5 held at the National Guard Armory.

Organized by Councilwomen Rosa Lawrence, Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson and Mary Hilliard, this was one of a series of meetings stemming from citizens’ fear and concerns regarding recent violence in these wards.

Cpl. Keith Rose, along with patrol officers Joseph Spurling and Terrance Howell of the Franklin Police Department, gave a presentation that informed approximately 36 participants about the effectiveness of Neighborhood Watch Program and how to report incidents in their neighborhood.

“Neighborhood Watch is not just about crime,” said Rose. “It’s about knowing who is in your neighborhood and taking care of the people around you.”

The officers presented different scenarios of incidents that have been going on in their neighborhoods that even utilized a car and realistic toy guns—common types that are sold to youth.

After each scenario, someone in the audience was asked what they saw. Some were surprised at how little

detail they could recall.

“You’d be surprised at how you don’t know how to report things,” Rose said. “I’m trying to let you know how your emotions override your perceptions of what you saw. You see how fast a crime scene can develop.”

But, “You are our eyes and ears,” said Rose.

Rose said even a unfamiliar car parked for any length of time is a reason to alert the police, even if a citizen has been told it is broken down.

“There are (drug) deals going on there, or the car is stolen, and they are coming back to get it later,” he said.

He credited the officers helping him with the presentation for volunteering to walk the streets during their own time, and said it had proven productive. Rose said people would see more foot patrols in the three wards. He also reassured citizens that complaints or reports called in by citizens are anonymous.

“No one can hear you on our radios now,” he said. “Let’s get that myth out of the way. The police chief took care of that.

“We’ve got to get out of this mindset of Franklin 20 years ago. We can’t leave our doors unlocked anymore. Those days are over.”

Rose stressed how important it is to form Neighborhood Watch groups, and for each group to stay in communication with each other to keep everyone informed about what others are doing.

“They key to Neighborhood Watch is unity,” Rose said.

Rose and the officers fielded questions from citizens and offered more tips to them.

The next meeting for the three wards, to be announced at a later date, will focus on gang paraphernalia, clothing and signs.

“Gang members are using (Web sites like) YouTube and myspace to recruit children on the Internet,” Rose said. “Your child could have a predator talking to them all day.”