Photo by Theo Tate
Capt. Darin Clements of the Granite City Police Department started a neighborhood watch program in Granite City to keep neighborhoods safe, including downtown Granite City.
GRANITE CITY — During the summer, Darin Clements came up with an idea of how to make Granite City neighborhoods safe.
So the Granite City Police Department captain decided to organize a neighborhood watch program.
“We started advertising it on our Facebook page and we were seeing if people were interested in it,” Clements said. “We had our first meeting in July and a lot of people showed up. About 35, maybe 50 people showed up for the first meeting and they said this is something we would like to do. I explained to them that everything is anonymous. I don’t want them chasing criminals and that sort of thing. Just fill out papers and turn them in to the police department and we’ll take care of the problems. We’re getting more eyes on the street.”
In the neighborhood watch program, residents team up to prevent crime and vandalism in their neighborhoods and report to the police department for any suspicious incidents.
“Our goal is to get our community involved with the neighborhoods once again like in years past,” Clements said. “I like to use an example of back when I was a kid when your neighbors knew what you were doing and so did your parents because everybody watched out for everybody. We’re trying to get the community back into being a community instead of being strangers living next to each other. Basically, our goal is to try to get people involved and help one another. Unfortunately, police can’t be everywhere all of the time.”
Clements, who has been a police officer for 27 years and has been captain since 2006, said this is not the first time someone has started a neighborhood watch program in Granite City.
“I’m trying to get started again the neighborhood watch program, which in the past has worked and people wanted to get involved and sometimes it doesn’t work,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is get it started so these people can take over the program themselves and report to us and help us out and the police department. It’s more than just criminals walking into the neighborhood. Every neighborhood has an eyesore. High weeds, high grass and gutters falling off. Things like that your normal police officers may not pay attention to because they’re looking for bad guys. People who live in their neighborhood can contact us and help us get these things fixed. We have city ordinances on the books for high grass and things like that and it’s our job to help our community become a better community.”
Clements said there have been three neighborhood watch program meetings, including one Sept. 17. All meetings are scheduled for the third Thursday of each month at the Granite City Township Building.
“It’s the residents who are coming to the meetings and I’m making captains for the neighborhoods and people who want to be a captain of the neighborhood watch program,” Clements said. “Those captains go out and recruit people in their neighborhoods and try to bring them into the meetings and get things going and getting more people involved that way and instead of us pounding people and saying, ‘hey, you need to join this.’ We’re letting the neighbors do that and get people involved and let it grow slowly. If you let it grow slowly, it will be stronger.”
Clements said about 30 people showed up for the Sept. 17 meeting.
“I went over on how to be street smart and wise,” Clements said. “It’s just like when you’re out walking or jogging and I was giving them safety tips. That sort of thing I was trying to instill in them so they can share with people in their neighborhood.”
For more information on the neighborhood watch program, contact Clements at (618) 451-9760, ext. 1161, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.