Monday, November 17, 2008

Police recruit vigilant neighbors

By Charles Booth • THE TENNESSEAN • November 14, 2008 Deb Duncan keeps a close watch on what happens in her Hillbrook neighborhood in South Nashville. If something seems odd or suspicious, she isn't shy about contacting neighbors. "I've knocked on a neighbor's door at 11 or 12 o'clock at night," she said. "And we alert each other by e-mail or phone." So far this year, crime is down in South Nashville, but the area has seen a 21.7 percent increase in residential burglaries. That's why the Metro police South Precinct is looking to recruit more vigilant neighborhood residents like Duncan. "Obviously, you have to be our eyes and ears in what we can't see and where we can't be," Commander Mike Alexander said. He was speaking at a community meeting hosted by the precinct Thursday night. It's one of the many examples of how the department is trying to build relationships with area residents. Those relationships, Metro Councilman Parker Toler said, may be the key to reducing crime in this community. "We cannot solve every problem as far as crime is concerned," he said. "But some of the bad incidents, if we know more about them, then maybe on the front end we can solve some of them." In the past year, 14 new neighborhood watch groups have formed in South Nashville. That means the department is now working with about 80 such groups in that area alone. "Any time we add a neighborhood watch group, we feel good about that because the trust and the partnership is increasing," Alexander said. Duncan has seen firsthand the success of these groups. Since she helped found the Hillbrook Neighborhood Association about a decade ago, she has remained in close contact with South Precinct officers. "We've had nothing but a proactive response from them," she said. "We had some issues where we had a house with a lot of high traffic. We worked with (the precinct), and the situation has been resolved."

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