Looking into forming Neighborhood Watches in Bethel
Story by Dan Hust
WHITE LAKE July 2, 2013 Neighborhood Watches may be rising in the Town of Bethel, starting with Smallwood.
Councilwoman Lilly Hendrickson imagined that possibility at Thursday’s town board meeting, where Undersheriff Eric Chaboty and Sheriff Mike Schiff made a presentation about forming such community groups.
“We would love to reinvigorate the Smallwood Neighborhood Watch,” Chaboty confirmed.
But, he cautioned, many Watches “fizzle” within a year’s time.
“So it really takes dedication and commitment,” he said.
The county’s chief law enforcers had been invited to the meeting due to concerns with burglaries in the township.
Chaboty blamed the problem on drugs, specifically heroin.
“Today, there’s no stigma,” he lamented. “Some have a $300-a-day habit, which is why they’re breaking into people’s homes.”
But he and Schiff agreed that residents can help police combat such crime.
“People who live in a neighborhood… know who belongs,” Schiff said.
Chaboty, however, warned people not to become vigilantes or to expect that a Watch group will eradicate all burglaries.
“A Neighborhood Watch is not a cure-all, but it does give police an added dimension in the community,” he explained.
In addition to catching burglars, he said it can aid in disaster preparedness and terrorism prevention.
“It’s an assistance to the police,” Chaboty noted, recalling how an alert neighbor in Swan Lake helped them catch copper thieves just the other day. “A Neighborhood Watch can magnify that power.”
Those interested in starting a Watch can contact the town at 583-4350 or the Sheriff’s Office at 794-7100.
As was the case last week, the Bethel Town Board will next meet on a Thursday, July 11, rather than the typical Wednesday. The move is temporary, designed to accommodate summer residents and weekenders who may find the day more convenient.