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Adams woman launches neighborhood watch group

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ADAMS — A village resident has gone door to door to build up community support for a neighborhood watch organization she formed a few weeks ago.

Jenny L. Watkins, who has lived in the village for most of her life, said she had known the area to be a small and safe community that was family friendly.

However, she said, there have been “more instances that people in the community have been alarmed about,” such as vandalism, break-ins and drug arrests.

“We don’t want these kinds of things happening here. It’s not welcome here,” she said.

A few weeks ago, she decided to get the ball rolling on getting a watch group together. In addition to registering her group through usaonwatch.org, which is tied to several national law enforcement entities including the National Sheriffs’ Association, she sought out advice and support from both town and village government and several area police agencies.

One of the first people she talked to was Mayor Patricia A. Sweetland.

“She had already done her homework,” Mrs. Sweetland said. She described the group as a “positive thing.”

“We’ve got great citizen involvement here, and this is just another part of that,” Mrs. Sweetland said.

Mrs. Watkins also has taken the message to town and village residents, enlisting friends to go door to door to get the word out about the group and setting up a meeting at 7 p.m. May 14 to discuss it. It will be held at the village office building, 3 S. Main St.

She also has written letters to several businesses in the village and town to get the word out.

“I hadn’t realized how much work goes into all of this,” Mrs. Watkins said.

Mrs. Watkins, whose husband is a state trooper, said she hoped the group would allow residents to serve as eyes and ears for the community.

“The more support we have for the program, the more success we’re going to have here,” she said.

Mrs. Sweetland said that in addition to keeping an eye out for suspicious occurrences, neighborhood watch members could help the town enforce its teen curfew.

Neighborhood watch groups have faced some scrutiny in recent months following the Feb. 26 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., by George Zimmerman, who reportedly was serving in a neighborhood watch group at the time of the shooting. Legal proceedings in the case are ongoing.

Mrs. Watkins said members of law enforcement would be at the meeting and are expected to discuss how members should respond to suspicious activity.

“We don’t want people arming themselves or taking the law into their own hands by any means,” she said.

Mrs. Watkins said she was blown away by the positive feedback she had received about the neighborhood watch group.

“I had no idea the number of people that had wanted this,” she said.

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