By Jeff Rebitski, Staff Writer

RIVERTON – The first meeting of a proposed new Neighborhood watch group was canceled due to unforeseen circumstances and will be rescheduled for a future date. It was originally scheduled at Riverton City Hall in Chambers at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday the 14th of July. All citizens were invited to attend this discussion and listen to experts on neighborhood safety and security.

This meeting was initiated in response to the shooting in the alley behind the Loaf ‘N Jug convenience store on June 25th, early in the morning that wounded two men.  Residents of the area where the shooting occurred appeared at the June 28 city council meeting asking for help to set up a neighborhood watch program. Spokesman Greg Tallabas and several others said the quality of life in their neighborhood has been deteriorating and the shooting was the low point. Tallabas said residents can’t enjoy their yards any longer. “We want to do something to let people know that kind of behavior is not just welcome,” he said. Mayor Richard Gard and Chief Murphy pledged to help the neighborhood get a citizens watch started.

National Neighborhood Watch began in 1972 with funding in part by the National Sheriffs’ Association, through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Since 1972, the National Neighborhood Watch Program (housed within the National Sheriffs’ Association) has worked to unite law enforcement agencies, private organizations, and individual citizens in a nation-wide effort to reduce crime and improve local communities. The success of the program has established Neighborhood Watch as the nation’s premier crime prevention and community mobilization program. Visible signs of the program are seen throughout America on street signs, window decals, community block parties and service projects.

The National Neighborhood Watch program empowers citizens to become active in community efforts through participation in Neighborhood Watch groups according to the national organization website. 

The proposed Riverton organization hopes to stop the infiltration of their neighborhoods by nefarious people intent on doing harm or creating an unsafe environment. There is no alternative motive, just safety of persons and property. The most important piece to any of these programs is the cooperation of local law enforcement in the training and support of local groups. 

These neighborhood groups are the eyes and ears of the community when it comes to community policing. According to the website, there are 5 steps to starting a community watch group that include coordination with neighbors, contacting the local law enforcement agency that will work with the community, discuss neighborhood concerns,  create a communications plan and access the information for training available through meetings and community events for the neighborhood. 

It is a fervent hope that nobody ever experiences crime in their neighborhood or school, but with a few steps, neighbors can reduce the likelihood and sleep better at night knowing that they have a plan in place. With the advent of new technology for surveillance, it has never been easier to keep an eye on the community and assist the police or sheriff’s office with investigating crime.