PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo police said residents can help prevent crime by forming more neighborhood watch groups and remaining active in them.
Sgt. Eric Gonzales said he's uncertain how many such groups exist in the city, but there should be more and members should be more involved in them because they're the best way to prevent crime.
"We've had to take down some neighborhood watch signs because some groups just weren't active," he said.
Anthony Carbajal, vice chairman of the East Side Neighborhood Association, said he wishes residents would be more involved, and he can't explain why some aren't.
"Maybe they fear retaliation by a criminal, they just prefer to stay home and not get involved, or they want more police patrols," he said. "Attendance is steady but I wish it was much higher. I think (residents) expect us to solve all of their problems, and we can't do that. But we can get the police involved."
Carbajal said his group meets monthly, and attendance ranges from 15 to 35 at any one meeting. Police officers occasionally speak at meetings, he said.
Gonzales said police have renewed their emphasis on watch groups with last fall's hiring of Shelly Taylor, the department's crime prevention officer. The position was vacant for several years.
"Our east side has a high number of burglaries," said Gonzaleas. "But we don't have very many neighborhood watch groups set up in that area. Whereas somewhere like on our west side, we have neighborhood watch programs set up, and those programs have been successful in watching and curbing different things that are going on."
Carbajal said people can organize smaller watch groups that may cover a block rather than an entire neighborhood. He suggests that residents be alert and suspicious, and to get to know their neighbors.
"Police just don't have the manpower to be everywhere at once," said Carbajal. "We can help. We just need to be more committed to it."
Call Taylor at (719) 553-2418 for more information about neighborhood watch groups in Pueblo.