Neighborhood watch program needs community volunteers
July 20, 2009
ALIAMANU MILITARY RESERVATION, Hawaii - The U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) police bicycle unit is looking for residents to take part in the Neighborhood Watch Program, here.
Police Officer Dion Villanueva said the Aliamanu Military Reservation (AMR) community is a vital partner in the Neighborhood Watch Program, and it is looking for ideas from community members on how to improve the neighborhood.
Among the crimes occurring at AMR are burglaries, thefts, property damage, breaking into cars, and teenagers loitering late at night, Villanueva said.
Crime at AMR has been sporadic, but Villanueva said that "it's better to deter or prevent crimes" than deal with a spike in incidents later.
AMR has a large number of new residential units, so law enforcement officials want residents to take pride and responsibility in their neighborhood, he explained.
Jesse Kaleikini, criminal investigation specialist, DES, said he's eager to have members of the community make their neighborhoods safer, becoming the eyes and ears for police through the Neighborhood Watch.
Kaleikini said the watch is strictly a volunteer program and civilians on "patrol" would not have law enforcement rights.
Volunteers walk and monitor areas, looking for potential problems such as bicycles left unsecured, vehicles with items left in plain sight, and curfew violations. Volunteers make note of anything out of the ordinary and keep in contact with each other and the police, Kaleikini said.
Community meetings have been held every other month, but more people need to get involved, bike officers said.
The next community Neighborhood Watch meeting is scheduled, July 22, at 6:30 p.m., at the AMR community center.
"We would like someone to take charge of a certain area, but will let the community decide the structure," said Police Officer Jarrett Kaupiko.
The bike patrol consists of four federal civilian employee officers who work daily in 10-hour shifts riding mountain bikes patrolling the grounds at Fort Shafter, Fort Shafter Flats, Fort DeRussy, Tripler Army Medical Center and AMR.
They explained that they are nationally accredited through the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association and locally certified through the Honolulu Police Department, having taken a 40-hour course.
Besides Kaupiko and Villanueva, other bike patrol officers are Jason Brub and Harry Mahoe, led by Sgt. Carlton Ingram.
Cpl. Mary Bright-Kameenui also assists as a member of the community relations program.
Despite their vigilant patrolling of the community, Villanueva acknowledged that the majority of reports that the officers receive directly originate from the community.