McGruff Safe Homes and Neighborhood Watch
MCGRUFF SAFE HOMES PROGRAM
"A Permanent Force for Community Betterment"
Your Colstrip Police Department has initiated prevention and safety programs that need the support of our community, and in particular, schools and parents. The safety of our children is of paramount importance to us all. The police department recognizes that children may be at risk as they walk to and from school. Younger children may become confused or fearful when confronted with dangerous or otherwise frightening situations. They need a safe and secure place to turn if this occurs. The Colstrip Police Department is in the process of establishing a network of McGruff Safe Homes throughout our community.
The McGruff House Program is a temporary haven for children who find themselves in frightening or dangerous situations. Children are told that they can go to a specially marked McGruff House, which might be a house, mobile home, townhouse, or apartment, any time they sense danger as they go to and from school or are playing in the neighborhood. McGruff Houses provide a safety network for children. McGruff Houses have significantly reduced children’s victimization and shown the value a community places on protecting its youngest citizens.
What McGruff Houses Do:
Call the police if a child is lost or has a medical emergency
Reassure the child if he or she is frightened
Report crimes and suspicious activities
What McGruff Houses Don’t Do:
Provide first aid (except in life-threatening situations)
Supervise the neighborhood
Local McGruff Houses rely on a partnership of law enforcement, school personnel, volunteer participants, and local coordinators. The Colstrip Police Department would typically be the first resource McGruff House participants will call to help a child. School personnel needs to be involved to help children be aware of McGruff Houses and teach them how to use them. Schools are a key partner because the program is most needed when children are on their way to or from school or playing afterward. If you are interested in being a McGruff House volunteer the Colstrip Police Department wants to hear from you. Any volunteer will be required to submit an application and undergo a background check completed by the police department. After being accepted as a McGruff House volunteer you will be visited by a member of the Colstrip Police Department, or a police volunteer coordinator, who will explain the program to you and provide you with important program information including a McGruff Safe House placard to display in your window.
The Colstrip Police Department, the Pine Butte Elementary School, and the PBES Parent-Teacher Organization are partners in the McGruff Safe Home program. To obtain an application stop by City Hall at 550 Willow Street, or the Colstrip Police Department.
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH PROGRAM
Is there a neighborhood watch in your neighborhood? There should be. According to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Home Security, “your neighbors are among the most important crime-fighting tools you can use”(P. 142).
What exactly is a neighborhood watch?
A neighborhood watch is a group of people working together to protect the neighborhood. They agree to keep an eye out for suspicious people, reporting loiterers, or those engaged in suspicious activities.
Neighborhood watches can also become involved in organizing community events related to crime and safety. This could be any variety of activities such as having a group meeting where you invite a police officer from the community to come in and talk about home security. It all depends on how active the people in your neighborhood want to be. Don’t wait for somebody else to get things rolling, though. If you’re willing to take the initiative, you’ll probably find a lot of people interested in taking measures to keep their homes and neighborhood safe.
Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch, Town Watch, Building Watch, Crime Watch-whatever the name, it’s one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear. Neighborhood Watch fights the isolation that crime both creates and feeds upon. It forges bonds among area residents, helps reduce burglaries, thefts, and robberies, and improves relations between the police and the communities they serve.
Why Neighborhood Watch?
Because it works! Throughout the country, dramatic decreases in burglary and related offenses are reported by law enforcement in communities with active Watch programs.
Today’s transient society produces communities that are less personal. Many families have two working parents and children involved in many activities that keep them away from home. An empty house in a neighborhood where neighbors don’t know each other or don’t look out for each other is a prime target for burglary.
Neighborhood Watch also helps build pride and serves as a springboard for efforts that address other community concerns such as safe parks and recreation areas, child care, affordable and safe housing, and clean neighborhoods.
We need motivated and concerned residents or community organizations that can assist the police department in developing Watch programs in their neighborhoods, business districts, or complexes. We need citizens who can volunteer as Block Captains to organize their specific neighborhoods and relay information to members. The Colstrip Police Department will assign an officer to speak with the neighborhood group about the Watch program, provide the necessary forms and also put up a Neighborhood Watch sign, usually, after at least 50 percent of all neighborhood households are enrolled.
Ways a Neighborhood Watch Can Help:
Through your membership, you’ll be able to keep abreast with what’s going on in your area, including learning about crimes that occur near you.
A Neighborhood Watch program will reward your participation by making your neighborhood safer. It is statistically proven that neighborhood watches are effective crime prevention tools.
A Neighborhood Watch can be a little like a Condo Board or other housing community forum in that you can use the meetings to deal with community issues such as abandoned cars, noisy neighbors, and neglected yards that devalue the neighborhood.
How to Get a Neighborhood Watch Started
Any community resident can join-young and old, single and married, renter and homeowner. Even the busiest people can belong to Neighborhood Watch-they too can keep an out for neighbors as they come and go. This community-based crime WATCH program is a simple and direct approach to protecting our community from criminals. The program involves the reduction of criminal opportunity through citizen participation in crime prevention measures, such as being alert and aware, reporting suspicious and criminal activity to the Police Department, and initiating actions that reduce criminal opportunity.
The key to any effective crime prevention program is communication and involvement. The Colstrip Police Department needs your help in safeguarding the great quality of life we have here in Colstrip. Crime prevention is everyone’s business. Please get involved with us. If you are interested in organizing a Watch program in your neighborhood contact the Colstrip Police Department for more information.