Wednesday, April 16, 2003
During the past several years, many of Hood River’s neighborhoods have been plagued by car prowls and other property crimes.
Community Resource Officer Aaron Jubitz believes citizen involvement is essential to stop these problems. His strategy is to get a Neighbor to Neighbor program up and running on every city block. That new plan will be unveiled during a special meeting at 7 p.m. on April 18 in the City Council Chambers at the intersection of Second and State streets.
He said refreshments will be served at the organizational meeting that is intended to create safer, more livable neighborhoods.
“The Neighbor to Neighbor program provides a way for residents to build a relationship that encourages them to communicate about suspicious activities,” Jubitz said.
Last year Jubitz completed mapping that divided the city of Hood River into 10 zones. He then identified the top law enforcement needs in each of these areas, with theft and vandalism ranking highest among crimes.
Jubitz wants to help residents lessen their chances of becoming a victim by increasing their awareness and teaching them to look out for each other. He contends the adage “there is strength in numbers” aptly applies to the proactive relationship that should be in place between police officers and community members.
“Citizens aren’t powerless, they can and should define what happens in their neighborhood and trust that their law enforcement agencies are also watching out for their safety,” Jubitz said.
He said the key component of the new neighborhood program is that residents engage in an open and continuing dialogue to keep informed about events. He said that communication network could include a telephone tree and regular block meetings. In addition, Jubitz said the Neighbor program offers great social outings, including barbecues, sporting competitions, street cleanups and holiday gatherings.
The program is based on the surmise that, once acquainted with each other, citizens will be more likely to keep an eye on each others’ home and report unusual happenings.
Jubitz said another element of the program is education, inviting experts to share tips about how to decrease crime. Those forums would focus on a range of topics, including how to eliminate poor lighting and hiding places that attract criminals.
Focus is also given to prevention measures that can be adopted as regular habits, such as locking car and house doors, and not leaving bicycles out in the open.
Jubitz is currently organizing the Neighbor program in one residential area of Cascade Locks and is hoping to extend it throughout the urban borders of both cities.
“You have the opportunity to make a difference in your own quality of life, that is the exciting thing about this new program,” Jubitz said.