Dan Hust | Democrat
Helping lead Foxcroft Village’s revived neighborhood watch program are, from the left, Paula Frumkin, Nicole Dertinger, Cheryl Roth, Kay Porter, Destiny Nickols (Kay’s 16-year-old daughter), Frank Ulbrich and Fallsburg Police Officer Jason Edwards.
Criminals beware, it ain't your 'old' Foxcroft
By Dan Hust
LOCH SHELDRAKE Criminals interested in what Foxcroft Village has to offer better beware:
More than the police are on the beat here.
“This is going to be one of the safest communities to live in,” vows Paula Frumkin, president of the homeowners’ association.
Frumkin is one of 18 “block captains” who patrol three miles of roadways that crisscross past nearly 300 homes in this ungated, working-class Loch Sheldrake development.
She’s also the co-founder of Foxcroft’s resurrected neighborhood watch program, which coordinates these captains with both the village’s leadership and the Town of Fallsburg Police Department.
The captains are the “go-to” people for the residents of Foxcroft, who can call them anytime they’re concerned about a suspicious vehicle, an unknown face, or an odd situation.
If the matter can’t be safely resolved at the community level, the captains then contact Foxcroft’s management or Fallsburg Police, depending on the nature of the call.
They’ve got the full confidence of the police to do so, in fact.
“Basically, we give them the training,” says Fallsburg PD Field Training Officer Jason Edwards. “Their job is to calm residents down and get the information.”
Edwards is the guy who restarted the watch program after more than a decade of its absence, approaching Frumkin with the idea around this time last year.
He was frustrated with the difficulty in solving a large number of burglaries, with the deep fears of homeowners, and with the resulting negative impact on the PD’s standing.
Frumkin saw it, too.
“It got to the point where the reputation of the Fallsburg PD was that ‘they wouldn’t do anything’,” she recalls. “... The reputation we have as a community and the Fallsburg PD needed to find a better spot.”
As one of the department’s patrol officers in this area, Edwards knew he needed more than just the community’s input. He had to have their outright involvement.
They chose a watch program that made participants more protector than vigilante.
“We don’t promote violence,” says Frumkin.
“This is the approach the residents of Foxcroft have felt comfortable with,” Edwards explains.
Just ask them.
“We’re just ‘aware’ now we weren’t as much,” relates Kay Porter, who is raising three children at Foxcroft and is both a block captain and the homeowners’ association’s acting corresponding secretary.
“I’ve seen the changes,” affirms Cheryl Roth, who has owned property here for 25 years and is now a block captain and the financial secretary of the association.
Same goes for association trustee Nicole Dertinger, who just moved here with her three kids in July. In that short time, she’s already noticed a difference.
And then there’s Frank Ulbrich, who with his wife left Queens in 1999 for the attractive peace of Foxcroft.
Now the vice president of the homeowners’ association and a block captain, he’s never felt prouder of his hometown.
“The community’s more cohesive. I see more of a neighborly feel,” Ulbrich says, noting more community events and get-togethers than before.
Officer Edwards is as much a part of this group as the rest. He’s a neighbor of sorts himself, having grown up in nearby Neversink.
And as the face of local law enforcement, he’s an integral, welcomed part of the neighborhood watch.
“We’re in constant contact,” assures Frumkin, who also coordinates a monthly meeting of the block captains.
“I think the residents feel more comfortable with the police department,” Edwards adds. “I see a lot more friendly faces, a lot more people waving.”
They’re also pretty pleased with Foxcroft’s manager, Michael Hoyt.
Hoyt and his crew are on-call 24/7, noted Frumkin, and they’ve been supportive of the watch program even buying six “crime watch” signs to post around the neighborhood.
“I’m happy to say management hasn’t raised our rent in four years,” she adds.
That’s due in part to the volunteer block captains and co-commanders filling a role that otherwise would require hiring paid security guards.
“My feeling is security isn’t going to stop anything. The best thing is to have your neighborhood watch, plus a [home] security system,” Hoyt says.
He knows that only too well. Prior to the formation of the watch program, his own management office was broken into.
According to Edwards, calls from Foxcroft to the police have since dropped, and the calls that still come in are often calmer and more informative.
“I have noticed fewer calls for service,” he acknowledges. “I’ve also noticed that the community, when they do call in, are giving us better information, and that only helps us to do our jobs.”
No one’s saying crime has disappeared from this village, but the mood is definitely brighter.
“You won’t find anyone more positive than myself,” nods Frumkin.
An 11-year resident of Foxcroft, she’s the vim and verve behind the watch program. Yet she chalks up its success far more to the people with whom she volunteers especially the children and young adults who have jumped aboard.
“They’re not afraid to work,” she proudly affirms.
And their efforts extend beyond keeping an eye out for major crimes.
Don’t try speeding through Foxcroft, or parking in no-parking zones, or trying to skirt past a barrier set up in an emergency.
If you need directions but aren’t a familiar face, expect some questions back about who you’re visiting.
None of this is to be intrusive or rude just safe.
“We’ve taught residents to look beyond what they normally see,” explains Edwards.
“It’s the level of communication skills that have been opened up,” agrees Frumkin.
As both a retired gym teacher and a member of a large family and now a claims adjuster for Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield Frumkin is all about getting people to work together.
“I’m just the catalyst,” she points out, “... whatever it takes to make this community safe.”