Neighborhood Watch programs in most communities in the city are going through major challenges; some are close to dying and struggling to survive. Yet one community’s program stands out from all the others – it’s the one in College Park Woods .
The CP Woods Neighborhood Watch program covers an area of about 500 homes along, and to the north of, Metzerott Road between University Blvd & Adelphi Road. The program has had close to 50 block captains at times. Block captains are the liaisons between their block residents and the NW organization and are the backbones of the program.
Much of the CPW-NW program’s success can be traced to the hard work of two program co-coordinators – Zari Malsawma and Rex Powell.
“I believe that the reason why the Neighborhood Watch Program in College Park Woods continues to be so successful is due in part to the leadership of the two coordinators; Rex and Zari.,” said Councilwoman Denise Mitchell, who represents the Woods community in District 4. “It is evident that the two of them are truly passionate about their community and that spirit is transferred to the block captains who take this task seriously.”
The program started out with about 20 Block Captains. “There was great interest in getting the program going when we started in spring of 2006 — there was a rash of airbag thefts that fueled the interest at the time.“ Malsawma recalls. “We recruited more captains and were at about 40 BCs the 2nd or 3rd year”.
But the program also faced challenges at times in terms of sustaining its growth. Malsawma said that after the 3rd year, Block Captains started dropping out, probably because there were no more series of crimes to sustain interest, she said.
“Our challenge is to find and recruit 50 block captains who will actively & faithfully serve; for an ideal ratio of 1 block captain for every 10 homes.” – said an optimistic Malsawma.
The group just had a well attended & very enjoyable holiday social at one Block Captain’s home last week, and that may very well be one thing they can do to sustain the interest & commitment of Block Captains.
“Even though we issue calls for Block Captain volunteers via e-mail & the print media, only personal approaches have resulted in someone coming on-board as a Block Captain; so the personal touch is vital to recruiting Block Captains.” – said Malsawma.
District 4’s other council member Marcus Afzali said the design of the community also contributed to the program’s success. “ The CP Woods community has always been a rather close-knit community and had a good base of active neighbors willing to do the work needed to make the program successful.” Commented Afzali.
Council member Mitchell also agrees with her counterpart Afzali. “They work closely with the city, the police department and all their two city councilmembers to keep us informed and ask for assistance when needed.” – she said. “It is truly a pleasure to have them working in our neighborhood to ensure the safety of others!”