Yellow-vested members of the Greater Lincoln Village Area Block Watch will be knocking on doors during the annual membership drive May 14-18, seeking support for a once-languishing organization that's been revitalized and expanded over the past three years.
The block watch is a nonprofit that aims to empower neighbors in four residential areas along West Broad Street: Lincoln Village North, Lincoln Village South, Garden Heights and National Pike Little Farms.
When he first moved into his home on Carilla Lane in 2015, Ryan Ladina said he heard recurring concerns about crime. The neighborhood once had a block watch but it had long been left to languish.
Together Ladina, 27, and David Donofrio restarted the organization, with the support of the Lincoln Village Residents Association (LVRA), and expanded it to include the Little Farms and Garden Heights areas.
"Safety would always come up when people were asked what they thought was the most important issue in the neighborhood," Donofrio, 31, said. "We had well over 50 people show up to an interest meeting at the library. For something completely new like that, it indicates the interest in the community."
Sgt. Josh Short, a community liaison officer with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, said the county partners with about 10 block watches.
They provide a direct line to the sheriff's four community liaison officers, who can quickly share tips with the roughly 140 deputies in the patrol division, Short said.
"Communication with your neighbors is a key," Short said. "Effective witnesses are what we need. The more they can tell us, and the insight from us on what we need, makes a better use of our resources."
Volunteer block captains are encouraged to wear the yellow vests provided by the sheriff's office while they're in the community to encourage residents to approach them.
"It lets neighbors know that we are around and makes us visible," Donofrio said.
The block watch holds monthly meetings at rotating locations.
"Meetings are the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be on May 23 at Joseppi's Pizza in Lincoln Village Plaza," Donofrio said.
"We try to move it around to expose different parts of the neighborhood."
Future plans include participation in Prairie Township's Fourth of July parade; a block party Aug. 7 to celebrate National Night Out; and an annual effective-witness training program in October.
The block watch also is active on the NextDoor social media app and regularly updates residents using its email distribution list, Ladina said.
"We would remind residents to have packages delivered to the back porch or out of plain sight," he said. "We tell everyone to lock their cars."
According to National Neighborhood Watch, a division of the National Sheriffs Association that promotes community safety programs, block watches are rooted in a simple premise: to "watch" out for one another.
From that grows a greater sense of community and the ability to recognize who and what doesn't belong.
"That's the thing about Lincoln Village -- we are such a tight-knit community. If we just carry that forward to knowing your neighbors," Donofrio said.
"If you know you're going to be out of town, give your neighbors a heads up. Little things like that seem so easy but those really are the most frequent crimes in our area."
For more information about the block watch, or to join, visit www.lincolnvillage.com/blockwatch.html.