McKinley crime prevention meeting
About thirty people were in attendance at tonight’s Neighborhood Watch meeting for the McKinley area. Scott Gordon, the alderperson for the district, hosted the meeting at the Harbor Manufacturing Company, 2012 – 52nd Street. Kenosha crime prevention officers Jeff Wamboldt and Ron Francis were in attendance, as well as two other alderpersons, Curt Wilson (13th district), and Patrick Juliana (7th district), to show their support. “We want to make Kenosha a safe place to live,” said Wamboldt.
Wamboldt continued, “Neighborhood Watch groups build a sense of community. That equals pride in the community. Looking out for each other makes the whole area safer.”
There are already five people who have been designated as Neighborhood Watch block captains in the McKinley area. They are:
- George Morgan – 31st Avenue
- Amanda Harding – 32nd Avenue
- Jennifer Hoag – 32nd Avenue and 58th Street
- Dino – 33rd Avenue and 55th Street
- Rebecca Butler – 34th Avenue
Participants were encouraged to give their contact information on the respective sign-up pages that were going around the room.
“We’d like to get more organized in the McKinley area. We’d like to see it broken down into one- to two-block areas, not the whole area,” Wamboldt continued.
Wamboldt and Francis made sure that everyone got a Neighborhood Watch participant handbook. They also passed around whistles and refrigerator magnets. “We give these whistles out at every meeting we go to,” said Wamboldt. “They are a 69-cent item that can save your life.”
Francis said, “There are three things the bad guys don’t like: light, noise and groups. This is a cheap way to protect yourself.”
Wamboldt quickly skimmed through the participant handbook. He said that he didn’t want to read the booklet to everyone; he asked everyone to go home and read it for themselves. Also included inside the handbook was a brochure on identity theft. Everyone was encouraged to request their free credit report every four months, one from each of the three credit companies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. People were also encouraged to request a credit report for their children and grandchildren once a year. Identifies of children can be stolen very easily, and they would not be detected for years until the child starts applying for credit.
Wamboldt and Francis talked about the latest scam. A person calls from Jamaica with an 866 area code, saying that you’ve won a prize. He asks the person to buy a $200 gift card from WalMart. Francis joked that the guy on the other end of the line asked him how he knew where he was. Francis said that, once he heard a rooster crowing in the background, he immediately knew where the guy was calling from.
Also included in the packet was an old Neighborhood Watch newsletter, which contains the “crime triangle” or “crime equation.” The equation is: ability + desire + opportunity = crime. Neighborhood Watch focuses on opportunity. Don’t give the bad guys the opportunity to commit crimes. Wamboldt said that “the best example is a group of thugs going around the neighborhood ransacking peoples’ cars. They can get into your unlocked car and rummage through your glove box in a matter of thirty seconds. But, if you keep your car door locked and don’t keep your valuables in your car, you take away the opportunity for them to commit that crime.”
Another theory Neighborhood Watch works off of is the “broken window theory. If you take care of smaller problems, bigger problems don’t occur. A good example here is curfew violators,” Francis said. “We crack down pretty hard on curfew violations at the beginning of the summer because it leads to less vandalism and burglaries. The crime rate has gone down 23% here in Kenosha. And, we received 8,000 calls for service. These are two theories that work. That’s what we want you to do is call whenever you see something out of the ordinary, something suspicious. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You’ve got a marked squad car with a uniformed officer in your neighborhood. And, I hope that that’s a good thing.” (By the way, curfew hours on Sundays through Thursdays are 10:30 pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s midnight. These hours are for individuals 17 and under. And, they apply during the summer months, too.)
Another item included in the packet were Neighborhood Watch window clings. People were encouraged to put these on their front door or front window, and back door or back window. Wamboldt said, “These are not magic shields, but they do serve as slight deterrents.”
Applications for Neighborhood Watch signs were passed out. Neighbors can pitch in to pay for the signs, which can be posted on existing poles. It costs the city $150 to put up a sign, but the city only charges neighborhood watch groups $20. Wamboldt said that usually a sign is put on the north end of the block and another on the south end. The homeowner on whose front lawn the sign will be displayed must give his/her permission, and the sign must be on the right side of the road.
The last item included in the packet was the list of important phone numbers. This list is included here for your information: KPD Citizen Contact Telephone Numbers. Please keep it handy in case you need to make a call.
Then, the officers had a little discussion about the definition of the words “emergency” and “suspicious.” Francis said, “If you think you have an emergency, just call 911. The dispatcher will help you determine whether it’s a real emergency or not.” He gave an example of a barking dog as being suspicious. “If the excessive dog barking is bothering you, you can call. Maybe the dog is barking for a reason. Maybe he needs food or water, or maybe he’s trying to alert you to the fact that there is a burglar around, or a person needs help. You never know.”
Wamboldt continued, “When you call, you’re going to talk to a call taker, who then relays the information to a dispatcher, who then relays the information to a police officer. That’s four people. Have you ever played the ‘telephone game’? It’s very easy for some of the message to get lost along the way. If you want to be seen by the police, make that known. If you’re afraid of retaliation, ask to have the officer call you on the phone or meet you around the corner. If you sign a complaint, then the police can issue a citation or make an arrest. Going to court rarely happens. And, call for a supervisor if you don’t feel you received the proper treatment, either with dispatch, or with a police officer.”
Francis said, “Except for the three dogs on our police force, we are all human. We all make mistakes.”
Harding then gave an instance of calling into dispatch on the “nuisance house” next door. For five minutes, she was asked the same questions over and over. Finally, she said, she just hung up. Francis said that Josh Nielsen can be asked to pull the recorded tapes and investigate. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, the dispatch person did what was appropriate.”
Nielsen said that there are 29 dispatchers who work for the force. They don’t know the problem houses. “And, not only do they dispatch for the city, they also dispatch for the entire county.”
The Kenosha Police non-emergency number is: (262) 656-1234. To call either one of the two Neighborhood Watch officers, dial: (262) 657-3937. Their e-mail address is: [email protected] if you’d like to e-mail them instead. To reach Alderperson Scott Gordon, dial: (262) 909-3989.