|How do I report a crime?|| Please call 301-949-3010 to report anything that seems "out of place"
or occurring at an unusual time of day. Some of the most obvious events to
watch for and report include: screaming; anyone peering into parked
vehicles; persons in a park after hours; persons loitering in parks,
especially near schools or in secluded areas; the sound of breaking glass or
any loud explosive noise.
Be prepared to report what happened; where it happened; when did it happen; was anyone hurt; description of person(s): age, sex, race, height, weight, clothing, any unique characteristics to help identify the suspect(s). If a vehicle is involved, get the license number, state, make, model, color, damage to vehicle, direction of travel.
The following are duties of Neighborhood Watch Block Captains:
Let's begin a dialog on this egroup about how best to engage our neighborhoods in campaigns to combat gangs.
I especially encourage the participation of members of this egroup with experience in fighting to keep gangs at bay and those working with Doug Duncan's Gang Task Force.
I have the following info to share:
Next time you see graffiti:
In response to the question about what happened at the Neighborhood Watch meeting on June 9, I (Vernelle) am answering because I was actually at the meeting. I had a long, accurate summary of everything that was said almost ready to send, but the computer program crashed just before I saved it (I really hate computers), so I lost it all. Ed wants to get something out tonight, so I have diet soda in hand and here goes.
Many of us at the meeting were concerned (okay angry) because we had not known about the May 8 rape in Sligo Creek Park until a week later. Lt. McClintock ??? explained that the victim had not reported the incident until June 3 and that the police had issued a press release the next day. The attack was reported on television and in the newspaper. He assured us that he police had not been sitting on the information.
The police told us about two changes in procedure which will improve Montgomery County policing in the area. In August there will be a redeployment of officers. District 4 will be divided into three sectors, and permanent shift assignments will be made. For us, this means that the same core group of officers will work our area during the day, and another core group will work it during the evening. They will become familiar with the issues of our particular area. This should prevent the kind of incident described by Rob Harkins where two officers were unaware of the problems we had been having. Officer Gregory talked about an email tree through which the department would communicate with leaders of civic associations and homeowners associations. In this way residents could be alerted quickly in case of something like a rash of burglaries in a particular area.
Rob also asked if there could be more communication between Park Police and MCP.
Most of us have been concerned about the gang activity in the area, especially since the victim of the assault said her attacker had a tattoo of 13 on his hand. We were told that he Gang Task Force checked the Upper Sligo Creek section of the park and found no signs of tagging, the use of graffiti to mark gang territory. However, the lower end of the park, around Long Branch for example, is another story. If you see graffiti with MS or MS 13 in it, notify the police. There are task forces working to try to identify the members of the gang and the areas in which they operate.
Lt. McClintock (I think) said that he had checked the calls for the past year from our area, and believe it or not, our area is one of the safer sections of the park.
The officers emphasized the importance of being careful and using common sense. They especially emphasized the importance of finding someone to accompany you when you walk or run. As a mom who home schools her kids and sometimes needs a bit of solitude ( as in "If I don't get a few minutes by myself, I cannot be responsible for my actions"), I am upset that I no longer feel safe going out on the path or through the woods by myself. But as the officers pointed out, a potential attacker would be less likely to approach two people. The officers also suggested carrying a good whistle, for example a FOX 40 ( I think I got that right) that can be purchased from a sporting goods store. They said that you should always carry a cell phone, with the Park Police number programmed on autodial. And if you are a regular runner or walker, it is important to vary your time and routes. In answer to a question about pepper spray, we were told that pepper spray is legal to use defensively.
At this point, I wish we could just move. Unfortunately, Ed doesn't want to. I have explained to him that I don't even have enough pockets to carry all the recommended protective devices plus the poop bags and dog treats I need when we go for a walk in the park. He told me to buy some hiking shorts.
I do see something positive coming out of our dealing with all this. We are meeting our neighbors, talking to each other, watching our for each others kids, wor
This will be a meet and greet, where residents can catch up with Officer Gregory and schedule a Home Security Survey. All members of the SHCA can register on our neighborhood watch log, so that neighbors can get to know who is in their community.
The time of this meeting will be from 7:30-8:30 p.m.
What would you do if you saw graffiti on the slide at the park? Or some kids drinking beer in the woods?
Would you call the police? Or would you let it go because no one is getting hurt?
According to Officer Luis Hurtado of the Montgomery County Police, we must take a stand against
petty crime if we wish to tell the bad guys to stay away from our neighborhood.
On Monday, December 8, the Neighborhood Watch Committee of the Sligo Headwaters Civic Association held
its first community meeting at the Washington Christain Academy to discuss setting up a Neighborhood Watch
program. Nan Martino, Neighborhood Watch Committee chair, said that we need to
foster community and get to know our neighbors so that we feel comfortable opening our doors's
to them. She is recruiting block captains to help gather and disseminate the information necessary
to make this program work.
Officer Cindy Wiseman, a Park Police officer who patrols our area, reminded the group that because there
are only 50 park police officers to patrol 30,000 acres of parkland in the county, park users should be
alert and call the Park Police if we see anything suspicious. It is important to tell the dispatcher as
exactly as possible where you are when reporting an emergency, including where you walked in and how far
down the trail you walked. The Neighborhood Watch Committee distributed magnets with emergency and
non-emergency phone numbers.
You are doing the right thing,
said County Police Officer Luis Hurtado, referring to our efforts to band together to keep our
neighborhood as safe as possible. He said that we are in the midst of a national crime wave because of
the slow economy, the biggest teen population that has ever existed in the United States, and the
recent release of many of the people who were imprisoned on drug charges during the 1980's
crack cocaine epidemic. According to him, the average criminal is between 12 and 27 years old,
immature, impatient, and angry, often under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
So what can we do? Officer Hurtado distributed brochures available from the county police
with suggestions about personal safety and burglary prevention. Officer Percel Gregory, Wheaton's
new Community Relations/ Crime Prevention Officer, said that he will come to our homes and perform a free,
confidential Home Security Survey if we request it by calling the 4th District non-emergency number.
All three officers emphasized the theory of the broken window.
If someone breaks a window in a building and it is not repaired, someone else will soon break another window.
Then someone will write graffiti on that building. And soon, because they know that no one really cares about
the area, unsavory characters will begin to hang around bringing drug problems and real crime
as opposed to petty crime which started the cycle. The three officers stressed the fact that we must report
any crime, from drinking in the park to indecent exposure; we want to let the bad guys know that we won't
tolerate it. All three agreed that it is particularly important to report graffiti since gangs use this to
tag their territory. Police use the presence of graffiti to help them know when a gang may be trying
to come into a new area.
Don';t give the bad guy the opportunity, Oficer Hurtado emphasized. Make your neighborhood a place where he doesnÆt want to be.ö He covered the four Ds of crime prevention: deny, deter, delay, detect. How do we implement the four Ds? He emphasized good lighting around your home, keeping cars and houses locked at all times, ôbillyö bars on sliding doors, alarm system signs, dogs barking, and the neighborhood watch--neighbors who report any suspicious behavior immediately.
Officer Hurtado also talked about personal safety. To keep yourself safe when you walk or run on the path, for example, he said that you should try to walk with a partner or dog, vary your routine, carry a cell phone, and always tell family or friends where you will be and when to expect you back. When you walk you should look confident, stay alert, notice people around you, look at people directly in the eye (a bad guy will think you will be able to identify him later), wear a ôtoughö T-shirt (military or martial arts). He also said that we should practice memorizing details such as license plate numbers and age, race, height, distinguishing marks, and clothing (especially pants and shoes which are harder for the bad guy to change quickly) of people around us. If you are a witness to a crime or a victim of a crime, this ability will help the police catch the criminal.
The officers reiterated their desire to help us in any way possible. We are going to try to have a follow-up Neighborhood Watch meeting early in the new year with our new community liaison officer Percel Gregory.
We will be putting together a Civic Association Directory to further "get to know each other." Block captains will be coming around the neighborhood to get your details (name, phone and email). This information is voluntary and will be used only for civic association business (will not be sold or given to any advertisers).
After the meeting ended, most of us walked home in the dark, looking confident, scanning the street, checking for anything suspicious, and planning a shopping expedition to purchase a ôtough t-shirt."