Police to discuss future of Middletown’s Neighborhood Watch program

The future of the city’s Neighborhood Watch program will be one topic discussed at Thursday’s meeting at Central Connections, 3907 Central Ave.

When the Coalition for a Healthy Middletown wasn't approved for another five-year, $500,000 grant, one of those programs impacted was the neighborhood watch, said Director Kristy Duritsch.

Ron VanArsdale, who spearheaded the Neighborhood Watch program, has resigned and Duritsch said she expects the Middletown Division of Police to take over the program.

Lt. Jim Cunningham and Detective Vince Lovejoy, the contact person for the Neighborhood Watch program, will address the crowd at 7 p.m. Thursday, said Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw.

These programs are important, Duritsch said, because residents are more “disconnected” with the advancements in technology. Cell phones and the Internet have replaced neighborhood front-porch conversations, she said.

That must change, she said, if Middletown residents want to live in a “safe and nurturing environment.”

She said neighbors have to take the initiative to watch for suspicious activity, and if they see something, they should call Middletown police.

“There is nothing the police can do if they don’t know about it,” she said.

One Neighborhood Watch captain, Paul Nicholas, who lives in the 200 block of Shafor Street, agreed.

On Wednesday, as he and his wife, Barbara, were putting up fall decorations on their porch, they also were watching for suspicious activity. Nicholas said he enjoys watching for potential criminal activity. When he sees something, he tells his neighbors.

“We always talk about what’s going on,” said Nicholas, who meets with his neighbors once a month. “We look out for anybody walking around or if anything gets broke in to. This way the neighbors get to know what’s going on in the area. Keep them informed. So they know they are breaking into these houses on this street.”

His message? “If you see somebody, don’t hesitate to call.”

He applauded the efforts of the police for responding quickly to potential problems in the neighborhood. He said a woman called last week and police found people looking in cars.

The program is important because residents are “the first line of defense against crime, not the police,” Muterspaw said.

He said neighborhoods that have alert residents who monitor their street daily have “a safer, more community oriented neighborhood. When nobody cares, that is how problems begin and fester.”

For more information, call the Safety Council at 513-423-9758.

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