Plano Seeks Renewed Interest in Neighborhood Crime Watch – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Plano police are trying to renew interest in an important community program to help fight crime.

According to Sgt. James Babb of the Plano Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit.

“We don’t have the reach we once had,” Babb says. “Outreach and communication are key to our partnership with the community.”

The Crime Prevention Unit works on outreach, conducting security searches of homes and businesses and educating the public on ways to avoid becoming a victim.

“We are one of the safest cities in America and we can’t do that without our community,” he said.

Plano police will host a community meeting Thursday evening in hopes of generating new interest in Neighborhood Watch Crime groups.

Registered, active crime watch groups in Plano have dropped from about 200 before the pandemic to about 70 recently.

“Crime watch groups are a great way for neighbors to get to know each other,” Babb says. “We have a point of contact if, for example, we need to look for a suspect, if we need to inform them of crime trends and they are also a good group to present to on safety topics.”

The program specifically needs coordinators who meet with the police twice a year, gain support among neighbors and organize National Night Out in October.

Babb spoke to NBC 5 in an East Plano neighborhood near P Avenue that has been without a dispatcher since 2023.

“She was one of our volunteers, a very sweet lady,” he said. “We have not yet found anyone who can take her place.”

The position, he said, would provide community officers with a point of contact for any public safety issues that arise and ensure residents’ needs are met.

Francis Largaespada lives nearby and was unaware the crime watch group was inactive.

“It’s important because that way the entire community takes care of each other,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t know who is next to you, behind you, in front of you and it’s good to know that you have to take care of the community.”

Plano police have even resorted to cold calling people who have filed police reports in the past to gauge their interest in leading the crime watch.

Denisa Moore has lived in the area for 20 years.

“I knew we had a neighborhood watch at one point,” she says.

Times have just changed, she said.

Gone are the days of block parties and kids growing up together.

There has been a lot of turnover in the area, she said, especially during the pandemic.

“We have a lot of people who don’t know what ‘Neighborhood Watch’ is and they think they’re watching out for family and friends in the neighborhood, and they don’t need a lot of others,” she said.

Babb hopes he can change feelings and get people more involved, including in the more Spanish-speaking neighborhoods of East Plano.

He encourages Spanish-only speakers to come forward and seek advice on starting a Spanish group.

“Our biggest goal is to make sure this is a safe city for everyone, whether you speak English or not,” Babb said. “We want you to feel welcome and safe.”

As he walked through the neighborhood, which has seen constant power outages and damage from last week’s storms, Babb said there’s another benefit to building community.

“If you had an existing crime watch group, you could use that to maybe have a (reputable) roofer come out and say, Hey, I’ve got 20 roofs in my neighborhood that need to be (inspected),” he said. “I know if I were a roofing company, I would make that neighborhood a priority.”

The Plano Police Department’s Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting will take place on Thursday, May 30 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM at the Davis Library at 7501-B Independence Parkway.

The public can contact the Plano Police Department Crime Prevention Unit at 972-941-2431.

A QT code is available for those interested in joining the department’s email list.

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