Leaders from several Northland Block Watch groups met with police last week to highlight concerns and talk about how the groups can work with police better to combat crime in the area.

Leaders from several Northland Block Watch groups met with police last week to highlight concerns and talk about how the groups can work with police better to combat crime in the area.

The meeting, hosted by the Columbus Division of Police, also gave Northland residents a chance to meet with the 18th Precinct's new liaison officer, Scott Clinger, and Brandon Shroy, the assistant city attorney assigned to the area.

During the meeting, residents brought up their concerns about violent crimes that occurred in Tamarack Circle earlier this year, and police gave tips on how residents can help officers make the area safer, said Northland Community Council president, Dave Paul, who attended the meeting as part of the Forest Park Block Watch.

Paul said police and Block Watch leaders hope to hold such meetings regularly to help Block Watches work together and to help Clinger handle all of the Block Watch groups in the Northland area.

According to police, Paul said, the 18th Precinct has more Block Watch organizations than any other precinct in the city.

In light of the recent violent crimes in Northland, including several shootings in the Tamarack Circle area in September, Paul said it's crucial that police reach out to volunteers to talk about how best to quell crime in the area.

"It's something that the division needs to do," Paul said. "We do need their guidance.

In order for them to be effective, we do need open lines of communication between our neighborhoods and the division."

Opening lines of communication has been difficult recently because the precinct has seen a change in its liaison officer several times, with the post occasionally being vacant.

Paul said the city has done a good job of bridging some of the gaps in service created by the liaison officer vacancy.

He said with the new meetings, he has high hopes that Block Watch groups can make an impact on the area by reacting to crimes more quickly and by being more vigilant in watching for activity that is out of the ordinary.

The meeting also included Block Watch leaders from outside the precinct, with some from other Northland precincts and one group hailing from Worthington.

Paul said the meeting was an example of what residents can do to help lessen the impact of pending city budget cuts.

"We're going to need to do as the mayor asked us to do recently: Step up and pay more attention to what's going on in our community," Paul said.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com