GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio - Garfield Heights is one of the few northeast Ohio cities that's promoted a block watch group in every ward, in every neighborhood.
According Garfield Heights Mayor Vic Collova and Police Chief Robert Sackett, it's an effort that is paying big dividends in the form of reduced crime and neighborhood improvements.
"It's a great asset to the community not only for safety reasons. A block watch acts as conduit for the administration of the city to get to residents," said Collova. "We have to keep an eye on vacant houses and that's what the neighborhood watches do."
Chief Sackett confirms crime statistics are lower in neighborhoods that have an active block watch consistently communicating with law enforcement.
"When we look back at the arrests we make and the crimes we solve, inevitably it's because we got a call from a residents," said Sackett.
Dan Baillie, president of the ward 4 block watch, is an 18-year resident of Garfield Heights. Baillie and his team of block watch members have stopped crime in their neighborhood and helped to promote improvement projects that have made a difference.
"A lot of people like to turn their heads and walk away, but sooner or later you have to realize this is your neighborhood, if you don't get involved you have nobody to blame but yourself," said Baillie. "I advise people to get involved with what's going on, because it's your town, take care of it and it will take care of you."
Baillie contacted 5 On Your Side Troubleshooter Joe Pagonakis through NewsChannel5's Building Better Neighborhoods initiative, and invited Pagonakis to the ward 4 block watch meeting on April 2.
Baillie pointed to the Building Better Neighborhoods toolkit as a great reference for starting a block club in any neighborhood across northeast Ohio.
"I really applaud what NewsChannel5 is trying to do, it's what we do with our block watch every week," explained Baillie. "Residents can fight to make their homes and streets and better place to live."
NewsChannel5 is also trying to fight back against a growing number of vacant homes and building through Building Better Neighborhoods.
Residents can also report vacant homes by sending us pictures and information on condemned properties in our neighborhood, and we'll forward the information to your city building department in an effort to move the properties to progress.
More information on how residents can volunteer in their neighborhoods and make them better can be found by contacting Hands on Northeast Ohio.
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