Neighborhood Watch — once a going concern on the Big Island, but now in a state of disrepair in many communities — is being revitalized by a dedicated group of volunteers led by retired law enforcement officer Bobbye St. Ambrogio, the new Hawaii County Neighborhood Watch coordinator.
“Neighborhood Watch is being revitalized as a tool to help the Hawaii Police Department fight crime,” St. Ambrogio said. “We want people to help each other and — together — to take back their communities from the criminal element. HPD is making a dent, but can’t do it alone. The police need the eyes and ears of the community. The Neighborhood Watch motto is ‘observe and report.’ We are adding the word ‘prepare’ to this motto. Community mapping procedures will be put in place to identify special needs of the various areas.”
A free family event is being planned from noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Pahoa Community Center. Billed as the “Neighborhood Watch Roundup,” the event is for anyone “interested in finding out how to take back your community from the ‘bad guys.’”
There will be country music, workshops, free prizes and gifts, food and many opportunities for networking. The “roundup” is sponsored by NW, Citizens’ Corps, HPD-Puna Patrol Division, Prosecutor’s Office, Civil Defense, Crime Stoppers, Safe Talk, National Weather Service, Tsunami Awareness Center, One-Touch Photo and BIG Solar.
At the “High Noon” welcoming reception, enjoy refreshments and help coordinators map communities. Residents of County Council Districts 4 and 5, which include neighborhoods from Kalapana to Volcano, are especially invited to the Sept. 27 event in Pahoa.
“Similar ‘roundups’ are being planned throughout the Big Island in an effort to connect all Neighborhood Watch groups in an unbroken chain,” St. Ambrogio said.
Learn how to properly identify suspicious activities and vehicles and report info to your local community policing officers.
The Glen Nihipali Band will entertain. The sound system will be donated by Spencer Pouroy.
Free NW hats will be presented to the first 200 attendees. There also will be distribution of NW IDs and vests to registered NW block captains and coordinators.
One of the special guest stars at the “roundup” will be McGruff the Crime-fighting Dog.
“Neighbors helping neighbors is not a new concept here in Hawaii,” St. Ambrogio said. “Our spirit of aloha and ohana has always been the way in which we live. Neighborhood Watch is an organized way to attain this goal, and is a valuable tool in the war against crime in our communities.
“Our mission is to look out for each other as we report and observe. Participants learn how to accurately provide information to law enforcement when reporting suspicious activity,” she added. “They are to report crimes, not enforce them, and not to take any risks. The responsibility of apprehending criminals belongs to a law enforcement officer. Community volunteers practice ‘vigilance, not vigilantism,’ she said.
“A Neighborhood Watch volunteer has the ability to meet their neighbors in a group and address issues of mutual interest such as home security, communication, area safety, fire prevention, etc.
“Members can contribute by being an extension of the eyes and ears of HPD and assisting the community in the event of an emergency.”
To learn more, visit Neighborhood Watch Hawaii Island on Facebook, contact Community Policing officers in your locale or contact St. Ambrogio at Civil Defense/Citizens’ Corps at 935-0031, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.