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When cooperation pays off

Outstanding.

The arrest of a home invasion suspect this week was an outstanding effort of police work. We should all be proud of the professional skills law enforcement investigative efforts made to thwart these continued crimes on our neighborhoods.

What is even more outstanding is the manner in which all our police investigative agencies worked and cooperated together to make the arrests.

Bainbridge Police investigators have in custody Dewayne Hall, 32, charged with robbery, burglary, false imprisonment and aggravated assault on a person over 65 and aggravated battery on a person over 65, and Kenyatta Jackson in connection with the home invasion on Broughton Street, charged with theft by receiving stolen property.

Also outstanding is the response of the neighbors, particularly neighbor Michelle Miller, who was outraged by what happened close to her home. This is not the first time home break-ins and home invasions have occurred in this neighborhood.

She has gone into action to reinstate the Neighborhood Watch programs, which have fallen into “unwatch” mode in recent years.

On Tuesday, she organized a neighborhood meeting with law enforcement officers to reinvigorate the Neighborhood Watch program. If we are going to fight the crime incidents in our city, get the thugs off the streets, and let it be known, that they are being watched and their suspect activities reported, then the Neighborhood Watch programs must be invigorated.

“Call us,” said Bainbridge Police Capt. Ryan Wimberly at the neighborhood meeting. And his message was basically this, “If you see something suspicious, or suspect anything suspicious, call us.”

Sheriff Wiley Griffin also backed up his statement.

“Even if it’s a false alarm, we don’t mind responding,” the sheriff said.

To effectively fight crime in our neighborhoods, the watch system must be in a high state of alert.

“Neighborhood crime fighting begins with citizens like yourselves,” the sheriff said. Day and night, neighbors need to be watchful of what is happening close to their homes and on the streets. If you see something, anything suspicious, call police.

When the word gets out, that criminals are no longer undetected on our streets, that their movements are being watched and monitored, then these incidents will decline.

Michelle Miller is organizing the inner city neighborhoods with crime watch volunteers, seeking block captains armed with information to keep their neighbors on high alert.

You don’t have to be a block captain to be involved. And you don’t have to be an inner city resident to be involved.

This takes all of us, everywhere in Bainbridge and Decatur County. We have an unusual crime rate here because we have become complacent and unwatchful. We also need to be unafraid to report these incidents.

At the meeting this week, one person said he knew of an elderly person who constantly had unsavory characters in her neighborhood and around her house, but was afraid to call 911 for help because she knew the suspects had portable police scanners on their persons, and would know a call had been placed. She was afraid of retribution.

Tell the 911 operator you suspect that situation, and they can notify police with other safe methods not detected by criminals.

None of us should have to be afraid either in our homes or in our neighborhoods. Neighborhood Watch plays a big part in fighting crime. Open your eyes and ears. Be vigilant of any suspicious activity in your neighborhood or around your home.

Call.

This is everybody’s fight. Let’s get to work.

Jim Smith is a former editor of the Post-Searchlight and knows from personal experience that police response to criminal activity is ”outstanding.”