By Ben Olson
When it comes to crime, we traditionally rely on law enforcement’s reactive response after a crime has been committed. With the “Community Force” neighborhood watch program, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office is utilizing proactive response to emphasize crime prevention. In other words, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Under the guidance of Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office has instituted a series of watch programs in the past two years, including Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch and Community Watch. The programs emphasize citizens being the “eyes on the ground” in neighborhoods instead of relying solely on law enforcement.
According to Neighborhood Watch Volunteer Jim Corcoran, the program is vital.
“My wife and I were block-watch captains in Seattle for 15 years,” said Corcoran. “We got robbed in Seattle. They broke into the house when we were gone and stole $1,500 worth of video equipment. I said, ‘I don’t want to put up with this anymore. Let’s get together and start our own block watch.’ We never had any robberies after that.”
Corcoran is one of nine volunteers made up of retired public safety officers and concerned citizens. The other volunteers, who serve as watch captains, are Jerry and Mary Gore, Bob Proctor, Craig Nelson, David Watkins, Jay Dudley, Ray Schlaht and Rick Cox.
The program is always eager to add more volunteers who would like to help prevent crime in their neighborhoods. Those interested should contact Sheryl Kins at the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office. Once passing a security check, volunteers will be able to organize watch programs in their own neighborhoods.
Corcoran also emphasized the important tools available for those wanting to know information about crime in their neighborhoods. The website www.crimereports.com is a tool to help citizens get crime incident data in near real time.
The program has close to 30 groups that encompasses over 500 people across the county, Corcoran said.
“It’s easy for me to sell this program because I believe it in my heart,” said Corcoran. “It’s also a great way to get to know your neighbors. I’m not a Facebooker. I want to know the guy across the street. I’m much more into one-on-one relationships with neighbors.”
Contact the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office at (208) 265-4378 for more information.