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Nearly 100 People Show Up At Lake Elsinore Sheriff's Station Ready To Help Tackle Crime

“Residents are ready for change,” said Lake Elsinore Sheriff’s Station Captain Shelley Kennedy-Smith.

It was standing-room only as nearly 100 people turned out Wednesday night at the Lake Elsinore Sheriff’s Station ready to help deputies take a bite out of crime.

Residents from Lake Elsinore, Wildomar and unincorporated areas such as Lakeland Village, Temescal Canyon, and communities west of Perris, showed up en masse to learn more about the latest iteration of the local Neighborhood Watch program.

Wednesday's community forum was hosted by deputies from the Lake Elsinore station.

“This is an overwhelming response,” Lake Elsinore Sheriff's Station Captain Shelley Kennedy-Smith told the crowd. “Residents are ready for change.”

Due to budget cuts, it's been years since the Neighborhood Watch program has been run in close coordination with law enforcement stationed out of Lake Elsinore. With Kennedy-Smith at the helm, however, the program is being restarted.

The community-based Neighborhood Watch program is designed to unite residents, curb crime, and improve neighborhoods impacted by illegal activity. Citizens work together to be “the eyes and ears” for police, and Wednesday night’s forum provided tips such as how to start a Neighborhood Watch, how residents can effectively work with law enforcement, and some basic training about crime prevention.

“I am so happy to see this city is motivated to keep the bad guys out of here,” Deputy Andy Acosta told the crowd.

Acosta stressed that while Neighborhood Watch participants are on the front lines -- reporting suspicious activity and crimes in progress to police -- the program is not a vigilant endeavor.

“This program does not replace police service,” he reminded the residents. “You help us do our job.”

Acosta also attempted to ease any fears residents may have about being a neighborhood tipster – or a witness.

As a deputy on the station’s special enforcement team, Acosta’s job is to make arrests, said Sgt. Ray Nava. “He’s good at it,” the sergeant reiterated.

So when Acosta talked about his work in the field, he offered, “Not once have I had a witness threatened by a suspect.”

Although Neighborhood Watch is run by residents, Community Services Officer Roxanne Baca is the current program liason and she told residents she is available to answer questions about getting watches started in areas served by the Lake Elsinore station. But Baca said residents should start talking with their neighbors now to garner interest and get as many people as possible involved.

“Neighborhood Watch is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways to reduce crime,” she said.

For more information about starting a Neighborhood Watch in your community, contact Baca at 951-245-3385.

If you see a crime in progress or a life being threatened, call 911. If you have information about a past crime, call the Lake Elsinore Sheriff’s Station’s non-emergency line at 951-776-1099.

For general information about starting a Neighborhood Watch program, click on the attached PDF from the National Crime Prevention Council.

Martha L. Bridges February 07, 2013 at 03:08 PM
The large turnout is reflective of the mounting concern among neighborhoods that we need to band together and help police keep a cap on rising crime. It is a good start, but people need to come together and make specific plans to keep their areas safe. Prompt graffiti removal is key to stopping the spread of crime and we need to work with the County and local city governments to understand and utilize whatever programs for removal are in place or to ensure that the programs and response times are adequate.
Dan Baldwin February 07, 2013 at 03:10 PM
I attended and thought the LEPD laid out the program in a way that ensures long-term success. In Tuscany Hills we already have 30 residents interested in being trained as a block captain. Our goal is to have one block captain for each 10 homes. We're swapping best practice start-up ideas with other HOAs like Canyon Hills. If you're trying to start a Neighborhood Watch in your area and would like to share best practice start-up ideas please contact me, Dan Baldwin, at ateldan@gmail.com or 951-251-5155.
tom February 07, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Just a reminder,your city chooses not to have a police department. Contract deputies transferred every couple year,no obligation to the citizens.
Alek J Hidell February 07, 2013 at 04:02 PM
The first step should be car registration. Police have the right to investigate when there are no plates or expired registration. Criminals have difficulties with this, it aids in their identification
SA February 07, 2013 at 05:41 PM
It is funny that you mentioned the tag issue ... My truck did not pass smog due to bad sensors which I had replaced. However I am currently driving around with 2012 tags (I did pay for my 2013) reprogramming the computer (in order to pass smog) and in doing so, I have been pulled over. I showed the officer all of my paperwork and was sent on. I did make the following comment “I bet this situation nabs a perp from time-to-time” and the officer said “yes”....
The Teller of Truth February 07, 2013 at 09:33 PM
"Prompt graffiti removal is key to stopping the spread of crime..." Yep thats all it takes & we'll be on our way to being crime free! :\
Constant Comment February 07, 2013 at 09:38 PM
I can just hear that phone call: "Hello Police Dept? Can you send someone over to check out my neighbors car registration? While you're at it, check on his meth lab too. Thank you!" chuckle......chuckle.......}~)
Chris Hyland February 07, 2013 at 11:27 PM
I never even heard of this meeting. Was it only submitted to Homeowners Associations? Or was it in the paper so small they were lucky if saw it. Well hope the 100 of those attended will gain more protection but don't hold your breath.
Imperfect Man February 08, 2013 at 01:25 AM
Overwhelming response.. wow.. expectations must have been pretty low. Population of Lake Elsinore somewhere around 50,000 (give or take a few thousand) Population of Wildomar somewhere around 30,000 (give or take a few thousand) And who knows the population of "Lakeland Village, Temescal Canyon, and communities west of Perris".. Let's see hmmm.. say 100,000 people in the area total. 100 people showed up. That's around one tenth of one percent (and that's a generous estimation).. Overwhelming!!!! Not in the positive sense of the word, I would say. But hey.. gotta start somewhere right?? Oh, wait.. how many of those people were husbands and wives.. too much math.. lol Great job to the Sheriff's department. We need them and we need to provoke more people to become involved in the safety of their communities. If everyone cared...
Brandon Romero February 08, 2013 at 02:43 AM
Why it's a waste of time
ROBERT BLACKMEN February 09, 2013 at 02:12 AM
You need the u.s.m.c to clean up this tweeker city of,lake smellsomemore..
valerie sund February 16, 2013 at 02:18 AM
I didn't see, hear or read about this meeting either. I have been in charge of my neighborhood Watch for 15 years. You would think that someone would have emailed my the meeting information :(

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