They came to the meeting, they saw one another, they sought to conquer crime.

They came to the meeting, they saw one another, they sought to conquer crime.

About 25 people turned out for last week's All-Clintonville Block Watch Forum, presided over by area commission members Nancy Kuhel, James R. Blazer II and Jason Meek and held at the Charity Newsies building.

District 6 representative Jennifer Kangas also was on hand, appearing on behalf of her own Delawanda Block Watch.

Columbus City Councilwoman Michelle M. Mills, who heads the public safety committee, was the guest speaker.

Those in attendance heard about how to start a Block Watch -- a crisis helps -- and how to keep people interested.

Sandy Simbro of Orchard Lane, where a crime-alert group was launched in the late 1970s, suggested inviting neighbors over for poolside drinks -- even if you don't have a pool.

During her presentation, before a question-and-answer session, Mills talked about a hearing she'd attended earlier that day dealing with offering neighborhood safety cameras to more areas of the city.

"There are some people who don't want cameras," she said.

But where people do, Mills suggested the best method for getting in the running for one or more is to send a letter from as broad-based a group of people as possible. That, coupled with statistics showing an area is plagued by the types of crimes cameras can deter, such as loitering, prostitution and drug sales, can help determine placement, she said.

"We try to use as many tools as we can to eliminate crime," Mills said.

In opening the meeting, Kuhel spoke of the history of Block Watch, which dates to early 1972 when officials with the National Sheriffs Association developed a model program in response to an uptick in burglaries around the country.

Block Watches initially were formed more as an effort to build communities and introduce neighbors to one another, and were less focused on crime and crime prevention, Kuhel said.

"Statistics do show that areas where people know their neighbors, where people are aware of what's going on, have less crime," she said.

Members of 11 different Clintonville Block Watch programs were present at the meeting, according to a show of hands. Several others were there to learn how to get one started.

"Our hope is that we bring out information into the community so that you all feel comfortable doing that," Blazer said.

Brian Leiendecker of DeSantis Drive said his Block Watch, which also includes homes on Dixon Court, East Dominion Boulevard and Sellers Avenue, has get-togethers four times a year. The members pass along information and concerns via a "phone tree," he said, because not enough of them have access to the Internet.

"We've got a pretty good little area where we're at," Leiendecker said.

Ceramic Drive resident David Cooke said his Block Watch was set up six years ago as part of the neighborhood association. About 60 percent of the members have computers, so he sends out alerts via email, while another neighbor handles making telephone calls when issues arise, Cooke said.

"I recommend this to everyone so you get to know your neighbors," said Bob Krasen of Blenheim Road, where a Block Watch was instituted in 2003 after his son's car was stolen.

It covers only 27 homes, Krasen said, but he produces a newsletter four times a year and members hold a cookout on National Night Out as well as a winter gathering.

"That ties right in with 'know your neighbor, build your community,' " Kuhel said.

Mills, who arrived late because the hearing on safety cameras ran longer than expected, also talked about the passage of state legislation that seeks to deter the theft of scrap metal from homes and vehicles. She said she was proud to have testified before state lawmakers about the effectiveness of Columbus legislation barring felons from selling to scrap-metal dealers. The problem of thieves simply selling elsewhere has been solved through statewide legislation, she said.

Mills also urged Block Watch participants to get involved in National Night Out, which this year falls on Aug. 7.

"An active and engaged community certainly is a safer community," she said.