FREDERICKTOWN — One of the best defenses against criminals is good neighbors. That’s why a group of residents in the Knox Lake area have formed a neighborhood watch with the support of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
The group is the newest of several such organizations across the county actively encouraged by Sheriff David Barber. Barber has long promoted neighborhood watches, proactively encouraging the formation of the first group in the county in Apple Valley in 1994, which is still going strong today. More have formed since then.
Recent robberies in the area of Knox Lake Road prompted Spohn Road resident Joe Cherryholmes to do something he’d meant to do for years — form a neighborhood watch.
“Sometimes people wait for a crisis to get close to their neighbors,” said Cherryholmes.
With organizational help from Deputy Dan Selby, the KCSO community relations officer, a meeting was attended by about 20 residents of Spohn, Love and Gilmore roads. Cherryholmes said that additional people who were unable to attend due to schedule conflicts have also expressed interest.
The program trains participating neighbors to be the eyes and ears of the community, with guidance from law enforcement officials on how to give good eyewitness reports and what information one should try to notice in order to help the police. Armed with such information, the watch members then call the sheriff’s office, which sends officers to investigate.
Distinctive orange and black signs are posted throughout the watch area as a warning to criminals that the eye of the community will be on them.
“Criminals know that neighbors are watching out for neighbors if they see those signs,” Barber said.
He also cited the success of the programs over the year at tipping off the police about suspicious activities, resulting in criminals being caught.
Selby meets with neighborhood watch groups on a regular basis to advise them on how to identify criminals and fire safety issues, as well as to inform residents about recent crime statistics and other issues. These meetings help establish strong connections not only between police and community members, but also among the neighbors themselves.
Cherryholmes said that, like many people these days, he has kept mostly to himself over the years, but that the watch program is helping bring his whole neighborhood together. He described the first organizational meeting as a real icebreaker, resulting in some residents meeting each other for the first time.
“It got me off my rear end to be more neighborly,” he said.
Residents interested in forming their own neighborhood watches can contact Selby at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 393-6800, ext. 244.