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Oct 15

A Safe Neighborhood Starts with Neighbors

Posted on October 15, 2019 at 2:15 PM by Renie Dugwyler

One of my initiatives for the Sheriff’s Office is to enhance a community policing program that integrates a strategic partnership with citizens to help prevent crime in unincorporated Jefferson County. Community policing dates back to the early 1980’s as a law enforcement philosophy that allows officers to serve a dedicated area and develop a strong bond with residents and employees living and working in that area. Currently we have two resident deputies assigned to the southernmost part of our service area, for quicker response to emergency calls in more remote locations such as the Pike National Forest. 

Most of our criminal activity, however, occurs in much more densely populated south Jeffco. Therefore, a comprehensive community policing program must also take into consideration the type of criminal activity impacting each community, common concerns of its residents, and the best approach to involving entire neighborhoods in public safety partnerships.

Each summer, National Night Out (NNO) grants us the opportunity to discuss these aspects of the community policing initiative with residents and other stakeholders throughout the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County. NNO is one of the longest standing police-community campaigns, introduced in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch to increase drug and crime prevention awareness while joining neighbors with law enforcement and generating local participation in anti-crime efforts.

This year National Night Out falls on Tuesday, August 6, and many Jeffco neighborhoods and communities are planning events for residents concerned about public safety. I encourage you to participate in your local event or consider hosting one yourself if none exists in your area, because a connected community combats our most common crimes of burglary, trespass to vehicles, and vehicle theft. 

These types of crimes often occur in sprees (a high occurrence of similar crimes within a short period of time), or as a series (a group of similar crimes committed by the same person or people), but are less likely to occur in neighborhoods whose residents know each other, share information, and are aware of who comes and goes on their street. For these neighborhoods, suspicious vehicles or people are noticed and criminal activity is reported. 

Residents who share a common desire for a safe neighborhood remind each other to lock their cars, leave a house light on, and close garage doors. These seemingly small steps deter crime for the entire block. If a suspect finds unlocked cars on a dark street, he will find more because he will continue down the street. But if the cars are locked and the street well-lit, he will leave and look elsewhere. Even just the simple act of visiting with your neighbors in driveways, front yards, and over fences prevents crime because more community activity means less criminal activity. 

We appreciate the opportunity National Night Out grants us to join our communities in the fight against crime. And we encourage neighborhood or homeowners associations in unincorporated Jeffco to contact us at crimeprevention@jeffco.us to schedule a deputy to attend their NNO event. More important than the partnership of a one day event, however, are the relationships built every day between neighbors. While there may not be a resident deputy in every neighborhood, every neighborhood has residents just as concerned about public safety as you and me. So take the time to meet them. 

And then remind them to lock their doors and leave a light on.