PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s capital city is looking to reduce crime by expanding its neighborhood crime watch programs, giving them more resources — and putting out an open call for anyone who wants to join in the watch.
Mayor Jorge Elorza announced the expansion Thursday morning at the West Broadway Neighborhood Association headquarters. As part of the program, the city displayed examples of clear signage that is being put up in neighborhoods, with a blue eye logo: “WE IMMEDIATELY REPORT ALL SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITIES TO OUR POLICE DEPARTMENT.”
Providence Police’s reports show violent crime is up 33 percent since last year, and property crime is up 14 percent. Police told WPRI.com reporter Dan McGowan last month the mild winter played a role in the increase.
The city also named a longtime volunteer, Ani Haroian, as a new liaison for neighborhood groups, with the intent to expand the number of groups further. The city has already doubled its active neighborhood crime watch groups in the past three months, starting with six and now numbering twelve.
The chairs of the watch groups will start exchanging information more and ideas and concerns, as well as reviewing citywide crime statistics each quarter. Their first meeting was March 15; they’ll meet again on June 14.
Susan Derita, one of those group chairs, started her neighborhood’s watch program more than twenty years ago, after a string of robberies on her street inspired her to keep a lookout. She eventually had to call police when her own home was targeted. “One crime is one crime too many,” said Derita. “There was no internet back then, so it started with a phone tree.”
The city is also launching a brand new community watch website.
“We don’t know specifically what the problems are in certain neighborhoods unless we’re communicating with the residents,” said Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements.