B’ham officials, residents hope to expand block watch programs

Peace campaign calls for more block watch programs

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Some neighborhoods are peaceful but others have issues that concern homeowners.

“Actually I hear a lot of gunshots in the early morning. At night, just anytime there is a barrage of gunfire over there,” Karen Smith Jones said.

Mayor Randall Woodfin’s initiative, the Peace Campaign, hopes to cut gun violence. The mayor wants to see more people join Block Watch programs, where neighbors watch out for each other and criminals.

“Block Watches are one of the least expensive ways to detour crime and it’s vital that we have the community coming together," says Crime Prevention Specialist Devoris Ragland-Pierce.

In Southside, Pierce says there are about 100 to 200 Block Watch groups but only about 60 are active. The police department will have Crime Prevention officials at all precincts next Thursday afternoon to tell people how to start Block Watches and keep them going.

“The police can’t be everywhere at the same time, so it’s helpful when you have someone in the community you can call to give that information. suspicious people, suspicious activity,” Pierce said.

It’s something Karen Smith Jones in West End is happy about.

“I believe it will be very effective for our community because we have people here who do look out for each other. If we see something going wrong we will call each other and say do you know this is happening,” Jones said.

Pierce said some areas welcome Block Watch programs and people look to join. In other areas, especially high-crime areas, there is concern about retaliation. Jones, though, is looking to join.

Crime Prevention specialists will be available at all precincts next Thursday 2-5 p.m. help people learn more about starting up and continuing Block Watch programs. South Precinct will be 3-7 p.m. to allow people to get off work.

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