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Preventing crime is everyone's job

October has been designated by the National Crime Prevention Council as Crime Prevention Month. Crime prevention is not the sole responsibility of the Police Department; crime prevention is everyone's business. The Police Department is asking you to help stop crime in your neighborhood.

Crime Watch is an extremely important function in the community that assists in the communication between residents and police. One such incident showed that it does work. Karen Cornett, a Crime Watch coordinator, called community policing Officer Bo Mullins about a man in the bushes at Gateway Mall. Mullins located the man and contacted Sgt. George Chapman of the career criminal unit.

They watched the man for several hours but nothing happened. Bo passed this information on to the midnight patrol, Sgt. Glenn Stofer. The next night Officer David Crawford received a suspicious person call of two men in the bushes at Rutland Plaza. The career criminal unit was called again. They watched the same subject and his juvenile partner for some time.

The two walked past a man using a water purifier machine, turned around and then robbed him. The suspects ran and were caught by the waiting police. This investigation and resulting arrests never would have happened without that call from a resident. Cornett just happened to know the importance of that call because of her involvement in Crime Watch.

The Community Resource section of the St. Petersburg Police Department is responsible for implementing the Crime Watch programs in your neighborhood.

Each of these officers is certified by the state of Florida as crime prevention practitioners and are trained to assist you in combating crime in your neighborhood. You may call any of them about crime prevention or police related matters. The officers are Dan Bates, 893-7128, assigned to assist business; Vonda Wynn, 892-5071, and Bob Ortiz, 893-7141, north of Central Avenue; Harry Herbst, 893-7621, west of the interstate; and James Giambruno, 893-7992, and Johnny Harris, 893-7559, south of Central Avenue.

It does not cost anything to belong to Crime Watch. There are two qualities that are required: awareness and involvement. We can teach you the hows and whys of awareness. You are responsible for the involvement. That involvement can be as simple as a one-minute phone call to report something suspicious to a Crime Watch coordinator in charge of the program in the neighborhood. Remember: Dial 911 in case of emergency.

For information on Crime Watch, call Lt. Mary Brady at 892-5078.