Neighborhood Watch

Lt. Jim O’Connell
Vallejo Police Department

If ever there was a time for a community to come together and to work as a team, it is now. The state of our national economy has almost crippled our nation, and as we all know, Vallejo has not been immune to the damage. Across our nation, communities have to deal with a reduction in municipal services, ranging from the closure of parks, the elimination of art programs, and the downsizing of emergency response services.

So what can citizens do to reduce the possibility of being victimized during these difficult times? The first thing to do is to acknowledge that things have changed in the community. We have more vacant houses than ever, which will in some cases act like a magnet for people involved in criminal activity.

The Vallejo Police Department is 100 percent dedicated to providing the absolute best possible services to the   community. While there may be fewer of us out there at times, we are no less dedicated to our mission of making Vallejo a safe place to live, work and visit.

Knowing who your neighbors are, and having a network in which to communicate with each other is critical. The Neighborhood Watch Program is an incredible way to get to know the families that live on your street. The more you know about who lives across the street from you, the better armed you will be to notice when something is wrong. As an easy example, if you know that your neighbor is out of town at a wedding, you will have good reason to be suspicious when you see a new face carrying out the television. I encourage you all to join a Neighborhood Watch group, and to enlist other people in your neighborhood and at work. The more of us out there that are looking out for each other, the  better off we will be.

One of the most common crimes in residential neighborhoods is burglary. More often than not, the people who want to break into your castle and take your valuables don’t want anything to do with you. They just want your stuff.  So if you are looking out your front window, what does a residential burglary look like from your perspective? Unless you are paying attention, it may not look like anything at all. Although people have found many ways to break into houses, the most common attempt starts with a seemingly harmless knock on the front door during the day, when the crook is hoping you are away at work or at school. If nobody answers the door, and that person then proceeds to the backyard area, or to a side window, there is definite cause for concern. Often times they will work in teams, with one person  breaking into the house while the other one stands outside as a lookout. Your job then is to remain calm and call 9-1-1. Do not put yourself in a position to be injured, but instead be a good observer and stay on the phone with the police until they tell you to disconnect.

The Communication Operator will ask you some questions that are imperative for responding officers. They will want to know the address, a description of the house, and a description of the suspects. Gender, age range, race, and detailed clothing descriptions are the things that are going to help the officers locate the suspects if they flee prior to the arrival of the police. If they are associated with a car, the license plate and a detailed description of the car is incredibly valuable. If we know what kind of car they are in, we may see it pass us on the way to the crime scene.

If you or your neighbors are unfortunate enough to be the victim of this crime, there are some things that you can do to help the police officers collect evidence. As much as you would like to clean up any damage, it is best if you wait and touch as little as possible so that when the officers arrive, they can try to lift some fingerprints. We have had great success in identifying criminals by inputting lifted fingerprints into national databases. At times our response time may be delayed depending upon what may be happening in town, so you may have to resist the urge to clean up.

In addition to participating in Neighborhood Watch programs, there are many other ways that you can be a more  involved and informed Vallejoan:

  • If you have access to the Internet, I encourage you to take a look at the Vallejo Police webpage (www.ci.vallejo.ca.us). You will find some of the great programs that we offer to citizens, such as the Citizen’s Academy and our volunteer program.
  • The Fighting Back Partnership (www.fight-back.org) is another very useful organization for neighborhood safety and awareness.
  • The website www.crimereports.com does a good job of listing calls for service to the police; however you should be mindful that it does not always show the end result of the call. In any event, it will give you a better idea of what is going on here in town.

So get out there, get involved, and lets all work together to keep our neighborhoods safe.

Lt. Jim O’Connell, Vallejo Police Department

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