Hudson Heights Weather

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Safety Patrols on Bennett Avenue

Residents of Inwood Heights have recently re-formed local, volunteer safety patrols to address an uptick in street crime.  Residents of Bennett Avenue are talking about beginning their own patrols.  These efforts are commendable.  But I have doubts about residents' ability to sustain voluntary programs like this on a long-term basis.  Inevietably, life becomes too busy, core members move away and the burdens fall on just a few select residents.  Voluntary patrols are certainly not a substitute for the City's adding more officers to the 34th Precinct.

My suggestion for folks on Bennett Avenue is a "Bennett Avenue Neighborhood Watch Association."  The Neighborhood Watch program was founded in the 1970s by the National Sheriffs' Association.  Neighborhoods, typically in suburban areas, formed voluntary associations where members pledged to watch over streets more carefully and report potential crimes to police.  There's no magic here, of course, but the programs empower and organize residents to watch the streets and report suspicious activities.  And then there's the best part of the program--being able to post the "neighborhood watch" signs all over the block (see above).

I have never formed one of these associations.  But, as an attorney, I'd be happy to provide pro-bono assistance to groups on Bennett in exploring this option.

Long term, however, the best solution to safety concerns on Bennett Avenue will be adding private security.  Building owners on Bennett Avenue, particularly cooperative buildings, should add more security lights, security cameras and private security guards.  If the cost of hiring private security is too much, why not form an association to share the costs among multiple buildings?  The guards can visit multiple buildings and, while making their rounds, keep an eye on the street.  I suspect the costs per resident would be minimal.

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