Police Department Promoting Block Watch To Prevent Crime

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A pool-cleaning van pulls up to your neighbor's house, unloads some equipment and disappears around the back of the house.

"When did they get a pool?" you wonder, then go back to your housework.

It's scenarios like this that Payson Police Officer Donny Garvin says are perfect examples of how the Block Watch program could benefit local neighborhoods.

Garvin heads up the Block Watch training program for the local department.

"There aren't all that many swimming pools in Payson, so you know there's a good bet that some crime is about to be committed," he said.

Each spring, Garvin said he focuses more attention on the Block Watch program because of the increased number of tourists coming to the Rim country. Also, since Block Watch attempts to bring neighborhoods together, Garvin said the warmer temperatures are also more conducive to outdoor meetings.

The first step to forming a Block Watch committee is to see if there's already a sign posted in the neighborhood. If there is, then a Block Watch program has already been initiated in that area.

If not, a call to Garvin then gets the materials you need to start forming your Block Watch committee. A date and time is established for the Block Watch presentation, and the chairperson sends out fliers to all of the neighbors inviting them to participate.

"Ideally, we try to do these presentations in conjunction with the area's homeowners' association," Garvin said. "Then we try to organize the watches by smaller neighborhoods."

People in attendance fill out forms listing who resides in their home, which cars can normally be found in their driveway, and any other information that might be necessary to help prevent crime. During the training, Garvin will also touch on self-defense techniques and home security tips to make the residence as safe as possible. He'll also explain the workings of the Payson Police Department, the 911 system, and general emergency procedures.

Once the officer has given a training session to residents in the area, he'll post a sign saying the neighborhood is protected by Block Watch.

Normally in the weeks following a Block Watch presentation, Garvin said the police department gets inundated with telephone calls from residents reporting suspicious activity.

"We don't mind that," he said. "That validates the whole program, and shows us that as far as increasing their awareness, it's working."

Out of the increase in calls, Garvin said, one or two will actually turn out to be a legitimate problem. "If we can catch just one person because of Block Watch, then it's all worth it," he said.

To learn more about the Block Watch program, contact Garvin at 474-5177.

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