Neighborhood block watch is about paying attention to the neighborhood.

Neighborhood block watch is about paying attention to the neighborhood.

"It's about being alert," said Upper Arlington resident Tricia Baxley. "It encourages people to be more communicative."

Baxley is the main coordinator for a community block watch group covering an area that includes Stonehaven Drive, Burbank Drive, Wenbury Road, Chartwell Road and Danvers Court.

Each street has a captain, creating a communications network within the neighborhood to distribute crime information, keep residents on the alert and to provide data to the UA Police Division.

"Their objective is to disseminate information with their streets," Baxley said of the captains, "so that the information that needs to get out, gets out."

That process includes going door-to-door, handing out fliers and newsletters, making phone calls, sharing email messages and keeping people in the loop, Baxley said.

That also means knowing neighbors, recognizing when something is out of the ordinary and communicating.

"Everyone needs to be on the same page," she said. "It's brought the neighborhood together ... It causes people to reach out."

Baxley said the block watch formed last fall after a public meeting last fall about the increase of crime in the area: break-ins, thefts, vandalism and other incidents. On July 25, the group met to acknowledge its progress. Among the attendees were Police Chief Brian Quinn and Officer Heather Galli, the police division's public information officer and liaison with the block watch.

"The goal (of block watch) is to encourage residents to pay attention to their properties and the surrounding areas," Galli said. "We can get a better idea of where the concerns are."

Block watch also helps reduce the hesitation some people might feel about calling the police, Galli said.

"It makes our job easier when we can respond immediately or in a timely manner," Galli said. "We're seeing an improvement in communication and response time."

Another component of the block watch program, Baxley said, is making neighborhoods less appealing to potential criminals. Criminals typically are looking to get in and out quickly, and that means finding doors and windows that are unlocked or valuables left in visible places, Baxley said.

"You have to think like a criminal," she said in terms of prevention.

Baxley said at a time when police departments are working with tighter budgets, residents need to take advantage of ways to contribute toward keeping neighborhoods safe.

"We can't expect to have a police patrol on the street every 10 minutes," Baxley said. "Everyone has to do their part."

Galli said there are four or five block watch groups in the city she works with on regular basis. Email, Internet and other forms of communications technology have made it easier to keep people informed, often more quickly and efficiently, she added.

Residents interested forming their own block watch should call Galli at 614-583-5197 or email her at hgalli@uaoh.net.