BENTON, Ark. (KTHV)-- Police officers promise to serve and protect, but they often rely on "We the people" to help them do their jobs.
Alarm systems and privacy fences are oftentimes enough to scare away intruders. But when it comes to protecting your family, sometimes a watchful eye can be the most important tool.
"Community Oriented Policing" is nothing new; people have communicated with law enforcement for decades.
But Lt. Kevin Russell with the Benton Police Department says now neighborhood watch programs are more valuable than ever.
"It's a good way to, kinda like the COP function was to get police officers to meet citizens, well neighborhood watch gets people out of their homes and meet their neighbors because that's something we've gotten away from in the U.S. In the last 30 or 40 years. You'll have people living next door to each other for years and not know each other's name!" says Russell.
But technology and awareness are changing that. Active neighbors are in touch via emails, texts and facebook to keep alert about what's going on around them.
"We have block captains, and sometimes if it's a really big neighborhood they'll have like co-captains to kinda coordinate certain areas you know they may say 'you get this half the neighborhood and you get this half.' and then captain will coordinate directly with us."
Ken Quick is a block captains for his Longhills neighborhood in Benton. He's lived here 7 years.
"We started a neighborhood watch group about 2 years ago. Primarily because we were having a number of break-ins and car robberies and things of that nature." says Quick.
He says watching out for each other has been great, and easy, for the 280 homeowners in his group.
"We have most everybody's email address so if anything needs to be communicated we can send out emails VERY quickly."
Quickly and correctly is the main focus for making sure these neighborhood watch programs succeed.
Russell says the level of groups' involvement comes and goes as crime ebbs and flows, but this summer Benton has 12 solid groups.
- Pleasant Fores
- Hidden Meadows
- Revis St. Area
- Cole Dr. Area
- Hudson St. Area
- Christy Acres
- River Oaks
- Hurrican Lake Estates
- Emerald Valley
- Hickory Ridge
- Greenbriar Drive
- Longhills Village
"We give them all the information but it's up to them to form their groups. Neighborhood watch groups are 99% about the neighborhood. It's not us. They have to make it work they have to have willing participants."
But the bottom line, with open eyes and a click of a button, residents and the officers are in constant contact, fighting crime, together.
"We've solved a lot of crimes through neighborhood watch groups and their efforts being vigilant for each other."
Benton is just one shining example of a community who has reliable residents. Russell says most towns that size have some type of community involvement.
In North Little Rock Sgt. Brian Dedrick tells THV their neighborhood watch groups are dedicated, usually meeting once a month in their homes or at the the downtown sub station.
Dedrick says, it doesn't matter WHERE they meet, just as long as it happens and safety is the result.
It's all about constant contact: email, text, Facebook or face-to-face visits. As long as the criminals are stopped.