Town of Lamar preparing for Neighborhood Watch
by Samantha Lyles
The Town of Lamar is preparing to deploy a valuable resource to combat crime and safety issues. That resource is the town’s own concerned citizens.
At Lamar Town Council’s May 11 meeting (which streamed live via Facebook), Chief of Police Carl Scott gave an update on the establishment of a Neighborhood Watch program. At Council’s April meeting, Scott sent out the call for volunteers to serve as watch captains, but he has received only two inquiries from citizens interested in taking leadership roles. He said the recruitment period for captains would continue for a couple of weeks, then he will begin zoning the town, setting out Neighborhood Watch signs, and scheduling meetings where Lamar residents can discuss crime concerns and establish plans of action.
Scott said the watch would probably be split into four or five zones, each with a captain and co-captain.
“(The captains) would be a liaison to the police department. They would gather information and if it’s something that needs to be handled right then, they would contact law enforcement,” said Scott.
For non-emergencies, captains would be charged with documenting safety issues and charting what times of day these problems occur so that Scott can deploy department resources to address them.
Scott added that if one neighborhood regularly encounters a particular problem, he will hold classes built around that issue so watch members can share information and learn together.
Mayor Darnell Byrd McPherson asked Scott to describe the ideal candidate to participate or lead a Neighborhood Watch zone. While any conscientious citizen would be a welcome addition, Scott said that retirees can observe problems and document concerns more easily than those who are still in the workforce.
McPherson suggested that council members and town volunteers could reach out to potential Neighborhood Watch members to drum up interest, then host an informational meeting to clarify how the program would work.
Scott also addressed the recent problem of “large crowding” on Adams Circle, which was reported by town citizens. Increased traffic stops have led to seizures of illegal drugs and guns, including AR-15 assault rifles.
He added that there have been several reports of “dogs at large” involving pit bulls running loose in neighborhoods. Scott said that in one instance, five pit bull dogs (all belonging to one owner) were out roaming together, which is a violation of town code and a fineable offense. To curtail this problem, Scott said that he and his officers will meet with owners and inform them of the problem and the risk they are posing to the community. Fines of $50 to $100 per loose dog could then be levied on owners who fail to secure their animals.
“We just ask our citizens to continue to contact us and let us know what’s going on in their neighborhoods, because if we don’t work together we don’t fix it,” said Scott.
Also at this meeting, McPherson discussed the recent “disengagement” from Lamar’s water system operator of record, Davis & Brown. McPherson said the primary reason that relationship ended was the town’s inability to pay the engineering firm nearly $30,000 in owed fees. She said town officials are looking into other vendors and making calls to secure another engineering firm that will continue repairs and upgrades of Lamar’s municipal water and sewer infrastructure.