YAKIMA, Wash. - New statistics show how effective block watch programs have proven to be for cutting back on crime.
Police and community members say Block Watch has proven to not only be effective in reducing property crimes, but also other types of illegal activity like gang violence and drug dealing. It is a program that makes people feel safer and police say it's here to stay.
"Thy shall love their neighbor. I mean you scratch my back, I scratch yours and definitely keep the crime down," says Elizabeth Rodriguez, a resident who says Block Watch reduces crime.
"When you have an organized block that's concentrating on crime prevention techniques and things to do to prevent from being victims, it's only going to help," said Officer Jaime Gonzalez with the Yakima Police Department.
According to the city's police report, statistics show a 50 to 85 percent reduction in burglaries once they initiated block watch. Officer Gonzalez says the city and the police department are here to help neighbors establish this program and then it is in their hands to look out for any suspicious activity.
"Then it's up to them to be on the lookout, you know report things and hopefully prevent from being a victim of crime," Officer Gonzalez said.
According to the police report, last year community members organized 12 new block watch areas and three are pending. Police say in total, there are more than 100 active block watches in Yakima neighborhoods.
"The program is here to stay. I think with the times being the way they are we have less resources. I think the community needs to do their part and step up and actually participate in the prevention of crime in their neighborhoods," Gonzalez said.
The Yakima Police Department is also setting up Business Watch. It is very similar to Block Watch, except business neighbors keep an eye out on each other's property. These groups are forming both downtown and on the west side.