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Mark Scott: Partner with police to prevent crime

As I meet with groups and individuals around the city, I am frequently asked, “What can we do to help the police reduce crime in Americus?” My answer is always the same. We need you to be our eyes and ears. Our officers routinely patrol the city in between answering calls for service, but they can’t be everywhere all the time. We need concerned citizens all over the city who are willing to look out for each other and to take a stand.
Recently a local business was robbed at gunpoint. I just happened to be in the area and was the first officer to arrive on the scene. As I pulled into the parking lot of the business, I saw a group of people waving their arms, pointing and shouting, “He went through there!” As officers began to blanket the area, they encountered people on the sidewalks and on their front porches all waving and pointing the way the robber had run. We had him in custody within minutes. Similarly, we have had a rash of burglaries that kept occurring in the same neighborhoods. Luckily, these neighborhoods have a very active social media network that relays information about criminal activity to participants and keeps them up to date on what’s happening in their area. Thanks to observant neighbors and cooperation between APD and the Sheriff’s Office, the burglar has been arrested.
These are just a couple of the success stories we see every day when neighbors get to know each other and begin to share information and watch out for one another. One of the social media platforms that we have been using is www.Nextdoor.com. This is a free website that allows people to identify a specific neighborhood and then invite their neighbors to join and share information about what is happening in their geographic area. All it takes to set up a neighborhood is for someone in that area to create an account, set geographic boundaries and then name the neighborhood. You can then invite neighbors to join through the program and begin sharing information. The police department will start posting crime information from your area as soon as we see new neighborhoods established.
Finally, as Halloween approaches, remember to talk to your kids and grandkids about safety. Make sure that as they attend the different Fall Festival events around town or go trick or treating on Halloween that they stay in groups and have adult supervision. Keep a watchful eye out for pedestrians as you are driving through your neighborhood and let’s all have a safe and fun October.

Mark Scott is chief, Americus Police Department.