On or about Tuesday, December 30, 2008, we had the unfortunate experience of having our home burglarized. During this time, my husband and I were staying at a hotel and our dogs were at the kennel. Our call to 911 on Wednesday morning, December 31, was responded to by members of Woodson Terrace's Police Department. Their thoroughness and quick action was immediately evident and without a doubt, their work early on in the case led to the eventual identification and capture of the suspects.
There were many outstanding efforts that members of the Woodson Terrace Police Department put forth during the investigation and eventual resolution of the crime committed against us: Captain Mike Thompson, Detective James "JW" Wethington, and Officer Hunter were the first on the scene on the morning of December 31. Subsequently we continued to work with Detective Wethington, who kept us apprised of new developments. Imagine our surprise when we learned from him that the suspects were identified and charged; a number of our stolen items were also recovered. He then met with us on Wednesday, January 28, to give us the details of how the investigation was resolved as well as return our personal belongings. We learned that less than 11% or 12% of all home burglaries are ever solved. We got lucky!
A silver lining to the unlucky incident....Detective Wethington recruited Brad and me to head up the Neighborhood Watch program. The program had long been dormant in our community. We started out small, but with very specific goals and a well-defined plan for the future. Approximately nine concerned citizens, the Chief of Police and two of the WTPD, as well as two Aldermen attended a meeting in our home on April 15, 2009. We then quickly geared up for a city-wide meeting at the park in May 2009. It was well attended; there were easily over 100 residents in attendance. You can read more about our early beginnings here: http://suburbanjournals.stltoday.com/articles/2009/06/10/north/news/0610ovl-watch20.txt
From there, we started to build our network of Block Captains and Participants. We are very fortunate to have some real go-getters as Block Captains. We went door to door with some of the Block Captains, as well as sent out flyers and letters, to garner some publicity and participation to the new program. Our official tagline: Watch and report. Last summer, we hosted a booth for all three days of Woodson Terrace Days. We have met several concerned residents who are looking to make their small piece of the world safer to live in.
I decided to take the approach of not only "crime-fighting" and raising crime awareness, but "community-building" with our efforts around Neighborhood Watch. The one aspect that directly led me to decide to run for mayor was the work we did on this program, as I got to see first hand, many opportunities to provide better communication, programs, and services for our residents. At the last Board of Aldermen meeting, we learned that some concerned residents are looking to sponsor a Children's Identification Program. They are also willing to head up the program this coming July. Great idea! A thought, we could bundle this with our plan to formalize an official Safe House program? Or we can get this to coincide with the summer parks program?
My committee and I also have an idea to request a grant and get a Children's Nutrition program started this summer, for children who won't have a healthy lunch or breakfast, given they're not in school. This could also be bundled with a day of swimming at the community pool. And bonus, they could also take advantage of the Bookmobile while it's traveling through. But this is another idea for another post, another time in the near future!
Back to Public Safety.... I have also been approached to organize a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program for the neighborhood, as an extension of Neighborhood Watch. FEMA will visit our community and train First Responders, who in turn will train all our volunteers. Train the Trainer sessions, an area in which I have vast experience. Apparently, the CERT was talked about a few years ago, but it never got off the ground. I'm here to commit that we *will* get this off the ground.
The following story was also suggested to me, as a means of investigating and perhaps borrowing an idea from St. Charles: http://www.fox2now.com/news/ktvi-st-charles-rapid-access-030210,0,6688182.story
These are all ideas that I have for building upon the work we've done with Neighborhood Watch. I would be remiss if I didn't thank the Woodson Terrace PD for their ongoing support, as well as sending a special thank you to the Woodson Terrace Business Association who loaned us the money for the highly visible and numerous Neighborhood Watch street signs and window decals.
Send your ideas to me or contact the Woodson Terrace PD with suggestions on how to improve our Public Safety. I've heard from some of you that we need to reevaluate our street lights. Some other residents have asked for speed bumps to slow the thru-traffic down. Others of you are concerned about the young residents' safety as they play in the streets or walk / bike home from school. I hear your concerns, and I have some ideas on how to address them. But I want to hear from you as well; I will be sure to post some intriguing and unique ideas.
I've said it before and it bears repeating, great ideas don't come from one idealogy.