Neighbors talk crime at block party

Hood River’s first Neighborhood Watch group is being formed, and others may soon follow.

Signup sheets for the crime prevention program were filled with signatures at the Block Party which drew 150 people to Pine Street on Friday evening (July 26). The event was planned so that residents of Hood River’s new “Zone 9” could meet each other and join in the battle against car prowls and other problems. But it drew many citizens from other sectors of the city as well — and even a visit from Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches.

“You’ve got a great community, coming together like this helps you solve your problems easier, and it helps law enforcement solve problems,” Metsger told the crowd.

“I think everyone had a good time and now we’ve gotten a start and we’ll see what happens next,” said Marty Knowles, a Pine Street resident who organized the barbecue potluck.

Knowles is working in partnership with Community Resource Officer Aaron Jubitz to establish the new Neighborhood Watch program. He volunteered for that task during a community meeting about Zone 9, the Heights commercial core and surrounding residential areas, three weeks ago. During the past year Jubitz has mapped out 10 zones in Hood River and 16 in Cascade Locks. He has researched two years of crime data for each of those areas, with the results of that study showing that, in Hood River, Zone 9 and Zone 2, encompassing the downtown area, are currently ranked first in overall crime at 16 percent respectively. For Zone 9, Jubitz listed 265 crime reports for the past two years, with theft and criminal mischief the two most common problems.

Knowles hopes to stop that trend by working with Jubitz in the next few weeks to set up the program that will allow residents to network information and more readily notice unusual activities.

Jubitz told the July 26 gathering that by taking pro-active steps to fight crime they would see a reduction of problems in their neighborhoods.

“We saw a need to change how we do business, seeing you here tonight tells me we’re going in the right direction,” said Jubitz. “We’re on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week but we can’t be everywhere. For Hood River to succeed as a community we all have to take a little responsibility and help each other out.”

He said many times when a crime occurs someone in the vicinity heard something but didn’t investigate further or report that information, which could have provided valuable leads.

“I cannot encourage you enough to give us a call,” Jubitz said. “A lot of people say they don’t want to tie up 9-1-1, but that’s why it’s there. Give us a call at 2 a.m. — we’re up.”

One Pine Street resident said he has already been actively trying to stop speeding cars along the roadway. Darron Dahlstrom regularly follows these vehicles to their homes and reminds the drivers that their actions are endangering children and pets. He said the general response from most motorists is that they just didn’t realize how fast they were going.

He gave away a million-candlepower hand lamp as a raffle prize and urged all citizens to have a bright light handy for investigating noises at night. More than 22 other Hood River businesses joined Dahlstrom in donating prizes for the Block Party.

“For me, it’s all about prevention,” said Dahlstrom, nodding toward his daughter, Alex, in his arms. “This is the number one reason I’m concerned.”

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