By Gabriel Sanchez
With funds allocated from Wellington’s Neighborhood Services Program, grants are now available to support active neighborhood watch groups in the village.
The Neighbors of Wellington (NoW) grant offers $250 to groups for neighborhood events and other innovative neighborly get-togethers. It is one of two reimbursable grants designed to prevent crimes such as burglaries and auto thefts within neighborhoods.
According to village staff, the active participation of citizens through programs such as a crime watch is among the most effective tools to fight crime. It’s not possible to stop criminal activity through the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office alone, noted Scott Campbell, a Wellington neighborhood advocate. “The PBSO needs eyes and ears,” Campbell said.
To apply for a grant, there must be a group of eight to 10 people serving as an active neighborhood watch group working together for at least three months. They must have had at least one meeting assisted by the PBSO’s Crime Prevention Unit. The Crime Prevention Unit trains watch members in safety and reporting skills, and will inform them of crime statistics and trends.
This new grant program works in conjunction with the Defensive Measures grant program, which funds lighting, safety and landscaping improvements in certain Wellington neighborhoods.
The grants serve as incentives for residents to take action, and to help engage citizens’ participation in keeping their surroundings safe. The lack of a neighborhood watch group could ultimately deter neighborhood safety, Campbell said. He noted that the value of these watch groups have been proven by statistics.
For example, community activity has led to a sizable decrease in crime rates in the Northumberland neighborhood, which Campbell said is proof of the effectiveness of the grant concept. Using community events such as a fun run through the neighborhood, crime in Northumberland has fallen off dramatically from 10 incidents between August 2011 and February 2012, to zero incidents during the second half of 2012.
“The Northumberland fun run was one of our most prominent and successful events,” Campbell said. “Northumberland has been largely free of crime.”
For more information about the grant program, call (561) 791-4796.