Local watch group growing success


PORTSMOUTH — After hearing about a string of break-ins, residents of one local neighborhood have decided to take action.

Three years ago, Karen Hill, along with her neighbors, grew tired of living in fear for their homes and safety. After a few organizing meetings where they discussed the criminal activity, they decided to start a Neighborhood Watch.

“As a neighborhood, we had three incidents within two weeks in our small area. One attempted break-in, one break-in and one trespassing, where someone attempted to enter a vacant home,” Hill said. “A few of the neighbors frequently would sit and talk and we decided it was time to make a change.”

To make that change, Hill and other residents went from door to door, introducing themselves and passing out flyers.

“We handed out close to 1,000 flyers door to door and held a meeting at the shelter house in Mound Park,” Hill said. “We also began a Facebook page which now has just over 400 members.”

While the group was formed to help fight crime in their neighborhood three years ago, Hill is amazed at how big it has become.

“It brought neighbors together, helping each other – not just in crime-related situations, but getting them to meet each other and talk to each other,” Hill said.

With the success of the neighborhood watch, the Portsmouth Police department took notice and helped the group become an official Neighborhood Watch.

“We were recognized by the City and Police Department to be “official” after we were in existence for one year,” Hill said. “We also became registered with the National Neighborhood Watch organization.”

While the group already has several members, Hill shared they are always looking for more residents who live in the Mound Park area to join.

“If residents live in the Mound Park Neighborhood Watch area, they can reach out through our Facebook page (Mound Park Neighborhood Watch). All we ask is that they answer a couple of questions that are listed. We need to verify their address before they are approved,” Hill said.

The group is a closed group for members only with exceptions to City officials and property owners. Admins of the page are the only people who see the addresses. Hill said she hopes the group will continue to grow and be able to put a stop to crime in the Mound Park area and hopefully help the city as well.

“The outcome we hope for is that crime goes away, but in the real world, we know that it will never completely go away,” Hill said. “Our hope is that we can at least curtail the activities and help the police department on making a change.”

With the success of the neighborhood watch group, Hill said they have had other communities reach out to them for help.

“Our group helped the North Moreland Neighborhood Watch Group get started and another area is interested in starting,” Hill said. “We are available to help anyone who wants to start up a group. We point them in the right direction, help them make contacts and help them with the information they need to start their group. We don’t do the work for them but will guide them in what they need.”

The Mound Park Neighborhood Watch Group is currently in the process of ordering new signs for the community. Anyone in need of a new sign should reach out to a group administrator to place an order.

“Our watch group is not just about crime. We are here to share safety tips, pass on informative local or state information and more. Our motto is and continues to be, ‘We want to take back our city – one neighborhood at a time!’” Hill said.

Reach Adam Black at 740-353-3501 EXT 1927 or email at ablack@aimmediamidwest.com