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Crime fighting gets boost

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

WESTFIELD Police Sergeant Steve Dickinson is working to initiate two new crime prevention programs for the city of Westfield that center around increased involvement from community members.

The first initiative addresses Crime Free Lease Addendums that the sergeant and Officer Joe Maxton discussed with local landlords in a lecture series that took place at the Westfield Police Station September 7 and 8.

The Addendums are civil contracts between a landlord and tenant whereby the rental applicant agrees prior to tenancy to abide by the rules of the property and not to participate in or allow criminal activity to occur within their sphere of influence.

"Always go with your gut instinct," Dickinson said to local landlords, "If you don't know about someone it will come back to bite you down the road. It is better to keep an apartment vacant for two or three months and lose $1,500 and wait."

Dickinson said that there are three elements needed to commit crimes on a landlord's property and they included a target, a desire and an opportunity. He explained that landlords must eliminate these opportunities.

Dickinson and Maxton encouraged landlords to have new tenants and tenants renewing leases sign the Addendum. Properties belonging to the program would receive certificate saying that they are working with the Police Department.

The second initiative is one that the Westfield Community Police Unit has developed and is a program in which citizens can be warned, made aware of or be informed of crime that occurs in Westfield by e-mail. Dickinson said this would include being on the look out for certain vehicles, persons or areas.

"This program called 'Westfield Crime Alert' is designed to be used through the Internet. If a crime has occurred where the police need help, where a warning or information is needed then they will email those who have signed on," he said. "You can now either call the information in you or you can now email information in or be kept informed on up to date crime occurring in Westfield."

Any emergency information or calls should still be called in on 911, Dickinson said. Any other non-emergency information can be called in on 562-5411.

Citizens can now email the Department at to sign up.