Vallone Recruits New Neighborhood Watchers
Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. joined Officer Dion Harris of the NYPD Community Affairs Unit and members of the 114th Precinct Citizen Observation Patrol in hosting an Astoria neighborhood watch meeting on July 31. Vallone, who created the neighborhood watch, provided information to attendees on the program and explained how residents can join to help make the community safer. Twenty-four residents have already been trained by the police to be block watchers. Watchers are taught to have a basic understanding of how to detect suspicious characters and behavior, and they can also anonymously report information to 911. With the help of Astoria’s seasoned crime prevention professionals, Vallone and the neighborhood watch will establish block captains for different sections of the district. As the watch program progresses, it will be aided by block captains and an increase in membership in the 114th Citizen Observation Patrol. Vallone, who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee, decided to create the watch after numerous troubling criminal incidents plagued Astoria this past fall – including an attempted rape, three shootings in one weekend, gropings and car break-ins. With the police force dwindling, programs like the neighborhood watch have become even more important. There are currently fewer than 35,000 police officers, down from nearly 41,000 in 2011. “Our police forces are stretched too thinly, and with crime rising across the five boroughs for the first time in 20 years, we need a neighborhood watch now more than ever,” said Vallone. “The more trained eyes and ears assisting the NYPD the better.” If you are interested in becoming a block watcher with the Astoria neighborhood watch, contact the councilmember’s office at 718-274-4500.
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