News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Taking a bite out of crime in neighborhoods

Neighborhood Watch (NW) is a nationwide crime prevention program begun in 1972 by the National Sheriff’s Association. It is one of the oldest and best-known concepts to reduce criminal activity, primarily in residential areas, although it also offers programs aimed at businesses — especially ones clustered in industrial and commercial parks.

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) had planned to introduce Neighborhood Watch programs in 2020 but COVID moved it to the sideline. Now, under the direction of Lt. William Bailey, the program has been revitalized and is gaining traction.

National Neighborhood Watch, the national organization that administers the program says, “Every day, we encounter situations calling upon us to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement. Not only does Neighborhood Watch allow citizens to help in the fight against crime, it is also an opportunity for communities to bond through service.

“The Neighborhood Watch Program draws upon the compassion of average citizens, asking them to lend their neighbors a hand. The National Neighborhood Watch Program is the portal for training to assist law enforcement agencies and their communities, technical assistance, resource documents, watch stories, networking, and assistance to the field.”

Bailey, who is known to Sisters residents having previously served as interim head of the DCSO Sisters Unit, is quick to point out that his office does not initiate Neighborhood Watches.

“It is a grassroots, bottom-up initiative that is driven and run by citizens,” Bailey said. “Our job, one that we happily do, is to assist in training and facilitation.”

Currently there are a handful of NW programs in the County, Bailey reports, the newest being Plainview. For the most part NW is found in rural or semi-rural areas where response times from law enforcement are reduced by distance and/or the separation between homeowners is greater. Squaw Creek Estates, Tollgate, or Cross Creek would be prime examples of communities most likely to benefit from a Neighborhood Watch program.

“Any neighborhood is eligible,” Bailey said. “It’s all about the presence or threat of crime that is the key driver.”

He wants us to know that no subdivision or neighborhood is exempt from crime, especially those with rich targets of opportunity.

Neighborhoods with kids mean more bike thefts. Homes with limited or more remote access are ripe for porch theft. As the population in Sisters grows at a rapid rate, there are simply more opportunities for property theft.

If you and a cadre of neighbors think NW might be a useful tool in reducing or preventing crime, Bailey is happy to talk with you and assess the viability of implementation. Reach out to him during business hours by phone at 541-617-3323.

Meanwhile Bailey and Lt. Chad Davis, current head of the Sisters unit, remind citizens to lock doors, remove valuables from cars before locking, store locked bikes and sports equipment out of sight, and just generally be more aware of security. Crime can happen to you.


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