Connecting With Each Other
On June 25, we had our first Business Watch meeting, and we had the opportunity to explain all the great things that are happening because you, members of the community, took the time to share your thoughts about how to make Ukiah safer.
You might remember that last fall Dick Selzer’s company, Realty World Selzer Realty, sponsored a contest that invited people to submit ideas on how to make Ukiah safer.
The winning submission suggested a Neighborhood Watch-type program using social media and other technology to communicate in real time, and a majority of the submissions tried to address the increasing problems of violent or bothersome transients.
While I am interested in the Neighborhood Watch 2.0 idea, it requires commitment at a neighborhood level – with people acting as block captains for each block to manage communication among neighbors. In the 1970’s, before cell phones and social media and the crazy busyness that has overtaken many of us, we spent more time connecting with the people who lived next door or across the street. Many of us remember Neighborhood Watch meetings where someone would bake coffee cake and we’d all sit around and talk about what’s been happening lately. If anyone is interested in organizing a Neighborhood Watch program in their neighborhood, the Ukiah Police Department will support you a hundred percent. We can help you learn how to use tools on our website that allow you to monitor crime activity in your specific neighborhood and make suggestions to keep your neighborhood safe.
As for programs UPD could implement, after reading the contest submissions, I realized we could create a Neighborhood Watch program for businesses—call it Business Watch—and help business owners and their employees feel safer and more connected. This would help address the transient problem at the same time, because transients often accost people outside of businesses, and if the business owners and employees could connect with each other and the Ukiah Police Department, we could respond more quickly because we’re aware of the need for assistance.
So, that’s what we’ve done. Our Community Service Officer Nancy Sawyer and her team of volunteers have visited 250 Ukiah businesses over the past few months. We’ve created an online forum where people can check in to see what other businesses are experiencing, for example, if someone is passing bad checks or counterfeit money. We’ve had great success with something called Crime Prevention by Environmental Design; working with business owners to change landscaping and other prevention and security measures to discourage transients from loitering.
We are also sending out monthly emails, with prevention tips on how to avoid embezzlement, scams, theft, and other problems. By connecting on a regular basis, we’ve become more aware of ways we can prevent crime rather than simply react to it, and when a crime does occur, Business Watch members who post suspicious activity on the forum help us connect the dots on cases we are already working on—sometimes leading to quicker arrests.
Business Watch is free. Any business can join. Simply call Nancy Sawyer at (707) 467-5708 or email@example.com, or visit our website and click on the Business Watch Forum tab.
Business Watch has become so successful that Dick Selzer and Realty World Selzer Realty are now planning on sponsoring a county-wide competition this fall. Sheriff Tom Allman is partnering with local law enforcement agencies and dividing the county into supervisor districts so people who live in cities can come up with ideas for city safety, and people who live in more rural areas can suggest ideas that keep people safe in the unincorporated parts of the county. You might want to put your thinking caps on now and start putting your ideas on paper, because the prize money would sure make a nice addition to anyone’s wallet.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.