With few patrols, Gold Hill looks to neighborhood watch for help

Gold Hill once had its own police force, but that department was dissolved over a decade ago. Now the community is looking to organize a neighborhood watch group to do their part in cutting back on crime. (Georgia Lawson/News 10)

An effort in Gold Hill is underweight to establish a neighborhood watch group.

The law enforcement presence here in the town has wavered over time. Gold Hill once having its own police force, which was later disbanded over a decade ago. The Sheriff’s Office used to respond for emergencies only. In recent years, however, a regular patrol car does make its way through Gold Hill streets.

But residents see a need for a step up to change the crime situation.

A neighborhood watch group has been an idea floated by residents for years, but this time concrete steps are being taken.

Organizer Andrew Patterson, a Gold Hill resident for eight years, has registered the group, brought a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office liaison on board, and is holding a meeting from 6-8 p.m. tonight at the Hatvest Time Christian Fellowship to inform residents.

Joining the neighborhood watch wouldn’t give members special police powers, but it would encourage them to report what they see and provide relevant information for law enforcement to act on.

“We are simply a watch group. We’re not police officers. We’re not trying to be police officers. We’re just want to make our community better,” says Patterson.

Patterson echoes the concerns of residents surrounding the quantity of petty crime, but says people aren't helpless. They can catch the offenders, but to do so people have to report and trust law enforcement will respond, even if it’s the next day. The neighborhood watch would at least encourage the communication necessary to get a police report started.

According to the Department of Justice, nationwide, neighborhood watches do drive down crime by about 16 percent.

There’s a good deal of variation in programs success, but the potential is there for Gold Hill if residents get organized and report.

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