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Woodhaven Residents Want to Bring Back Neighborhood Watch Program

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | February 20, 2013 4:07pm

QUEENS — Woodhaven residents are hoping to bring back a neighborhood watch program to help fight crime and to improve the quality of life in the area.

Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association, said the group's mission would be to "help the police.”

Robberies in the 102nd Precinct, which includes Woodhaven, are up 36.7 percent this year through Feb. 10, and burglaries are up 12.9 percent, according to NYPD statistics.

Wendell, who said he was working on the issue with the NYPD's community affairs, heard about the Block Watcher program at the Citizens' Police Academy, which he recently completed.

He said that he has spoken to about 50 volunteers who have expressed interest in participating and that he hopes to recruit more during a town hall meeting that will be held Wednesday night in Woodhaven.

Members of Block Watchers programs are trained by the NYPD in how to detect suspicious behavior and activity. They are given Block Watcher identification and instructed how to give useful specifics when they report to the police.

Wendell said that there are a few trouble spots in the neighborhood that he would like residents to keep an eye on.

“A lot of times you are walking down a street, and you see someone acting suspiciously,” he said. “When you see a location where it’s obvious they may be selling drugs, call it in.”

The program, which was popular in the 1970s and 1980s, has been recently resurrected in several neighborhoods, including Astoria. The effort has been welcomed by local police forces, weakened by budget cuts.

“I’m more than willing to explore any option that are going to be done safely for the benefit of the community,” said Captain Henry Sautner, Commanding Officer of the 102nd Precinct.

Wendell said that two years ago the neighborhood also initiated so called Block Captain program to protect the area in case of weather emergencies. The program, he said, proved very useful. “Now, whenever there is a blizzard or a hurricane, very quickly we can put together a list of damage or streets that need to be plowed,” Wendell said.

The Block Watcher program will be discussed at a town hall held tonight at 8 p.m. at the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps (78-15 Jamaica Ave.) Those interested in signing up can also contact the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association at 718-296-3735 or via email: info@woodhaven-nyc.org.