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WHEN TO CALL 911
This is a question often asked and debated – in meetings, on list serves and on street corners. After much thought, I decided to take a little time and put this question to people I thought would know the answer. I spoke with representatives from the police department, TWIS, and some people who do security. Then I took it one step further and checked out what is on the web.
Unfortunately, I got really great responses, but they contradicted each other:
“You should only call the police if you want them to come out.”
“You should call the police when you see a crime taking place.”
WE ALL MAKE SAFETY MISTAKES - EVEN THE QUEEN OF SAFETY
You know those times when you read or hear certain things about other people and you wonder what were they thinking? Well, as an outspoken individual I generally try to keep my true opinion to myself, but this is not one of those times – this one is about me! Some joke that I am the “Queen of Safety,” but even this queen has made mistakes worthy of dethroning.
Last spring I wanted to walk to Chestnut Hill to handle some business. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and crisp. I told one of my friends about my intention. She and her husband suggested that I walk through the woods, under the McCallum Street
CWTW NETWORK BEING UPDATED
CWTW has grown a lot since 2008! We are working this month to update our database, which is now in the hundreds. When we finish, our member addresses and numbers will be more complete and accurate. We will also have a more efficient system for sending out alerts, invitations, calendars, and other kinds of messages to CWTW members, whether active patrollers or eyes-and-ears participants.
You will be hearing from us soon by email, asking for verification of your contact information and the way you want to participate. If you would like to add someone to our network, please let us know. We will even send alerts to your block.
Concerned neighbors originally got together over safety issues in the community to found Carpenter Woods Town Watch. CWTW began patrolling on Mischief Night in 2007, and we have never stopped. We work very closely with the 14th District Police Department to get current information on criminal activity in our neighborhood. While incidents have increased by about 17% all over the city in the last two years, our area has remained steady.
CWTW is made up of concerned neighbors of many descriptions who find 1 or 2 hours each month or each week to help watch over our area. Working in pairs, linked by radio, they monitor 50 blocks of West Mt. Airy in a steady effort.
Our members include: full time artists, teachers, some busy lawyers, professors, as well as a practicing psychiatrist, marketing director, retired executive secretary, landscape architect, librarian, and many others. What we all have in common is a genuine appreciation of our neighborhood.
Some of us come out in the daytime, some after dinner or children’s bedtime and some bring their dog out for Pooch Patrol. It's not hard to schedule patrols around a favorite television show or sporting event. You can even bring your teen and use the time to reconnect. One of our most reliable patrollers still comes back to walk with us from his new home in Andorra!
We have varying ages and capabilities, and yet we patrol as a harmonious team. Some of us even have health ailments but those little pangs don't have to keep us from patrolling, since we can ride in a car with a partner who will pick us up if necessary, so we can still keep a watchful eye. There are very few things that keep us down (with the exception of Mother Nature).
Our patrollers make the time in many ways, and together they watch for suspicious activity and show our neighborhood strength, so that all of us can go about our business feeling safe.
We are always glad to welcome others who are ready to come out with us. Maybe one day soon you too will find the time. How about now?
What types of incidents occur most frequently within our town watch boundaries?
Are our efforts at neighborhood patrolling paying off?
To get a perspective on crime in our area and answer these questions, I reviewed our logs of incidents within the CWTW Area (this website lists most of them). Our records lack data for most of 2010, and 2015 still has two months to go. But I counted up 2009 and 2011-15, and the five most common types of incidents here are shown on the graph, so you can compare the categories and years. The results are quite interesting.
Assaults (pink) – None since 2013, and when they did occur, about half were domestic events.
Robberies (orange) – 14 reported, but none since 2013. (About one each year involved a gun.)
Burglaries (green) – This has been our second most common type of incident:
Our worst years for burglaries were 2011 and 2012, when a team of burglars was targeting our area. We had 53 break-ins (and 5 failed attempts) in 2011 and another 48 break-ins in 2012. The police finally arrested those perpetrators, with help from neighbors who spotted and described them; home owners came forward at the trial and the burglars were convicted. In 2015, 6 attempts were foiled by neighbors, systems, or dogs, and 2 burglaries were reported.
Vehicle thefts (blue) were steady at 7 or 8 per year until 2012, then dropped to 2 and 4 in the past 2 years. But the number has increased again to 6 so far in 2015, and the year is not over yet.
Subtotals for these 4 types are shown in yellow – the bar above the horizontal line.
Our best full year so far was 2013, when almost all crimes were lower than in other years. 2014 was nearly as peaceful, with an uptick in burglaries.
2015 is trending even lower so far, in most kinds of incidents: zero assaults and zero robberies, and burglaries may be far fewer than in any year recorded. But six cars have been stolen from our area already this year. Police are monitoring this situation.
Thefts (olive-green): Look below the line on the graph to see our most stubborn problem. Incidents of theft from vehicles and yards are more common than all other types combined in our area(except during the spate of burglaries in 2011-12). This problem continues despite the efforts of police and town watch patrollers. But we as ordinary residents have the power to control these numbers at home. All it takes is more awareness. Theft is a crime of opportunity. These thieves do not want to be caught, and many of them are still kids. By locking our cars and putting valuables out of sight we can make it harder for sticky fingers to grab our stuff. If we remove the temptation then those who can’t resist it will have to behave or look elsewhere.
Total crime incidents (the combined yellow/olive bars) are listed in red at bottom of the graph.
Note: A few other events here have not been common enough to merit a place on the graph. There was one drug arrest (on Sedgwick St. in 2011), and less major offenses like vandalism, indecent exposure, marijuana use, scams and suspicious behavior have occurred in small clusters. No incidents of rape or prostitution have been reported in our area.