The Cottonwood Heights Police Department works in conjuction with the Cottonwood Heights Neighborhood Watch to create a safer community for all residents. Help your community by getting involved. Contact Police Support Specialist Sheila Jennings at 801-944-7032 for more information about how to start Neighborhood Watch in your area. Check out their website at www.CHNeighborhoodWatch.com. Cottonwood Heights Neightborhood Watch is also on Facebook:
Neighborhood Watch holds training meetings regularly. Check the calendar for dates and information.
A Case in Point
By Martha Cardon
A recent incident in our fair city showed some vivid examples of both the need for Neighborhood Watch and the effectiveness of the program. CHPD Officer Steve Olson, one of the officers who responded to the dispatcher’s call in this particular incident, sat down with me to describe what happened and to give his comments on the situation. Since this case is currently being prosecuted, some details will be left out, but there are some general principles in this case that are vital for us to know. My thanks to Officer Olson for his time and information!
Q: Describe the time and circumstances of this incident.
A: It was early to mid-afternoon when we received the dispatcher’s call about a stolen bicycle. A vigilant neighbor saw someone who “looked like he could belong” in the area walk into an open garage across the street and ride out on a mountain bike. It appeared that the garage door had been left open accidentally. Thinking something was not quite right, the witness called 911 and the CHPD quickly responded. In the interim, however, the witness got in her car and followed the suspect, all the while continuing to give the dispatcher updates on the location of the suspect.
Q: What happened next? Was the suspect apprehended?
A: The suspect connected with another person in a pickup truck. The suspect was subsequently caught and arrested, but the driver of the truck was not. During the interview at the station, the suspect claimed affiliation with a Kearns-area gang.
Q: What can you tell us about the victim and their loss?
A: I don’t know if anyone was home, or why the garage door was open. The timing may indicate that a parent left to pick up a child from school, but I have no evidence to confirm that supposition since my associations were with the suspect and the witness. Other officers who were involved in the case handled the victim’s needs. I understand that the value of the mountain bike was about $1,000.
Q: Tell me the actions you would like to see from Cottonwood Heights residents in order to be effective Neighborhood Watch participants and involved citizens.
A: There are simple, common sense actions that help protect every citizen. First of all, call in any suspicious activity observed! Let the CHPD respond and check it out. Our average response time is 4-6 minutes. Be preventive: look for unusual people or happenings, and be aware of usual goings and comings in your neighborhood. Watch for open garage doors and notify the homeowner. The CHPD will even respond to close an open garage door, if asked! It is much better for us to do that, than to respond later to a crime that could have been prevented. Call a neighbor to check on your garage door if you even think you may have left it open. And please never leave your keys or valuables in a car, even while in your garage! This is asking for a theft to occur – and there are many that do.
If someone comes to your door to ask for an address or a person, be suspicious! Report it - they may be “casing” the neighborhood. Give the best detailed descriptions possible of the person(s) involved in any suspicious activity, including the type and color of clothing, vehicle color, make, model, license plate, and any other defining characteristics. The more information you give the better.
In the bicycle theft case described above, the dispatcher stayed on the line with the witness, as the witness followed the suspect from a safe distance and relayed continuous updates to the CHPD until we arrived. This citizen cooperation with the CHPD is a very effective way to ensure our community’s safety and catch the “bad” guys.
Being a good neighbor means being alert and vigilant. Notify your neighbors when you go on vacation and ask them to watch for and pick up newspapers and/or mail (yes, even if you have stopped them, they will often be delivered for a day or so by mistake). The more “eyes” in the neighborhood, the better. Never think that our police department is bothered by calls of suspicious activity! When residents are involved and proactive, not just reactive, Neighborhood Watch and crime prevention are most effective.