|Deputy Martin Wilson takes a photograph to be kept on file at the sheriff's office.|
As crime in the United States has become more senseless, more random, and more violent, our citizens have become more fearful. They are afraid to go to the mall or even drive down the street. Never has this been more evident than during the recent Washington, DC area sniper attacks which created such fear that many motorists resorted to seeking cover while fueling their cars. In these attacks, we witnessed a young child being shot while entering his school and innocent Americans brutally killed while engaged in everyday activities such as mowing the lawn, waiting for the bus, and loading packages into the car after an evening of shopping.
Our citizens are tired of crime, tired of being frightened, and tired of worrying about their safety and the safety of their children. They believe that the system is stacked against them and in favor of criminals. They think their government is failing in its most basic duty: to protect them.
As a government official I believe all levels of government must work together to respond to these fears and identify effective ways to get criminals off the streets, make our Neighborhoods safe and restore trust.
Safer Communities = A safer Neighborhood
Just how can we accomplish these goals? The first step is to reestablish confidence in our communities. The very foundation of a safe and secure nation, in fact, rests in the establishment of safe and secure neighborhoods. The National Sheriffs' Association has long been committed to this cause. In 1972, the organization, with financial assistance from Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, created the National Neighborhood Watch Program to unite law enforcement agencies, private organizations, and individual citizens in a massive effort to reduce residential crime. A work plan emerged for use by sheriffs, police, and citizens to put together local neighborhood-based programs. The resulting Neighborhood Watch has developed thousands of such local residential crime prevention programs in which individual citizens work to accomplish two goals: to make their homes and families less inviting targets for crime, and to cooperate with law enforcement through block and neighborhood groups to control crime.
Oftentimes, citizens provide law enforcement with valuable information that ultimately leads to the arrests of lawbreakers. This is the first step in ridding our communities of those who threaten peace and prosecuting these offenders to the fullest extent. Neighborhood Watch provides an avenue for citizens to become involved on this level and play an important role in protecting their communities.
Beyond community support, programs like Neighborhood Watch rely on support from our nation's lawmakers. Last year, the program, in fact, won the support of the highest government office. In his State of the Union Address, President Bush challenged all Americans to become involved in homeland security efforts, and he specifically charged the National Sheriffs' Association with the mission of promoting and increasing the number of neighborhood watches around the country. Our Presidential mandate is to double the current number of neighborhood watches.
Many of our nation's sheriffs are at the forefront of this effort and have already begun the battle to make this a reality. They are devising innovative, creative ways to serve the public and initiate community involvement. They are committed to finding ways to curb crime, and they know that Neighborhood Watch is a pivotal step in the right direction.
Indeed the Neighborhood Watch program is an excellent way for all Americans, from all communities, to become involved and help law enforcement. Not only has Neighborhood Watch given citizens a voice in crime prevention, but also an active role in improving our neighborhood. Through this collaborative effort, sheriffs around the country can identify the concerns of constituents and aid them in finding solutions to problems within their communities and make our local neighborhoods a safe place to live and work. As Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a letter to the National Sheriffs' Association. "In the great tradition of American volunteerism, the Neighborhood Watch brings together citizens and law enforcement, to weave a seamless web of prevention of crime to keep our communities safe."
National Night Out is Aug. 5. The National Association of Town Watch is pleased to welcome you and your community to the "20th Annual National Night Out" crime prevention event. An expected 33 million people in more than 9,800 communities will join forces Aug. 5 to promote police-partnerships: crime, drug and violence prevention; safety. and neighborhood unity. Here in Emery County we will also join forces to stop crime, with walking at sunset with flashlights, leaving your porch lights on and letting people know we want to give neighborhood crime and drugs a big going away party. Come and join in on the fun.
Aug. 5, come and join in the fun at Ferron Mayors Park for horse shoes, games, ball and just plain country fun. Time from 7-10 p.m. Come and enjoy yourself. For more information, call Ferron City Hall.
Aug. 5, come to Green River for the Emergency Preparedness Fair, 7-10 p.m. at the LDS Church
Aug. 8, Castle Dale, at the Sheriffs' Booth from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m there will be ID-A- Child, fingerprinting, DNA, and pictures, and a big surprise, McGruff the Crime Dog said he would be there to visit with the children. The towns that will be there to help are Ferron, Clawson, Orangeville, Castle Dale and Huntington.
Wayne Gay is a sheriff in Wilson County, NC and the president of the National Sheriffs' Association. Article above was adapted from Sheriff Gay's acceptance speech at the Nation Sheriffs' Association's 63rd Annual Conference held June 25.