Residents train for crime watch group
Date: 7/22/2010July 21, 2010
By G. Michael Dobbs
HOLYOKE -- How would you describe a suspicious person or activity in your neighborhood? The group of Ward Six residents attending the July meeting of its new crime watch group participated in the first in a series of training sessions designed to prepare them as effective reporters of crime and suspicious activities.
Meeting at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College, while renovations are being made at Holyoke High School, approximately 30 people listened to the presentation made by Edward Case and William Powell of the Hampden County Sheriff's Department.
Case said that reliable, accurate information is needed by the police to address crime.
"We need more eyes and ears, need more information to get a conviction," Case told the neighbors.
Case added, "Nobody knows your neighborhood or street more than you." He explained that suspicious activity could be defined as "circumstances that seem unusual."
Case also emphasized a crime watch group is not about confrontation -- which he said is the job of the police but of gathering information to share with police.
He shared a story of a member of a Springfield crime watch group who alerted police to a man with a gun. When they arrived on the scene she stayed on her telephone telling the dispatcher exactly which person out of a group on the street had the concealed weapon.
He and Powell then presented the detailed information police need to address a situation.
"We really have to train our brains on how to observe," Case said.
For cars, police are looking for the make, model, color, license plate number, direction of travel and occupants. Even a description of bumper stickers could help police identify a car wanted in an investigation, Powell said.
With describing a person, the gender, age, hair color and style, race, height, weight, complexion, speech pattern, clothing and general appearance are all important facts, Case said.
When reporting locations, the exact address, cross streets or major landmarks are all necessary components, the two men explained.
With any information given to police, Case said, "Be as specific as you can."
When asked by one resident about taking photos with a cell phone of a person or situation, Case said that personal safety comes first and photographing someone or incident shouldn't put a resident in peril.
Part of the training last week included a presentation on not putting oneself in danger. Case said people must be aware of their location, don't take risks and be cognizant of potential hazards.
Additional training and organization for the crime watch will take place over the next several meetings, Case added.
The next meeting will be Aug. 19 at the Kittredge Center, room 303, from 6 to 7 p.m. All Ward 6 residents are invited to participate.