By NATHAN GREGORY
Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement and the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors have arranged a March 19 meeting at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse to start a neighborhood watch program. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
OCSO Commander Andre Quinn said the meeting is designed to introduce the plan OCSO and the board are developing and he hopes to have people representing each county community in attendance.
“It’s going to be a county-wide meeting. The meeting is hopefully for everybody to attend and then we’re going to branch off this meeting into the neighborhoods so each neighborhood can have their own (program),” Quinn said.
Sheriff Steve Gladney said he hopes the program will help raise community awareness and get citizens working with OSCO on a regular basis to prevent criminal activity.
“This is to kick it off and tell them what we’re going to try to do and get input from them. Then we’re going to start setting up meetings in (Oktibbeha County communities). What we’re wanting to do is go into these communities and do safety programs; how to be safe into your home,” Gladney said. “It allows the neighbors to get to know each other and the routines. It teaches participants how to make their homes safe and more secure and trains citizens on the importance of recognizing suspicious activities, and we’ll talk about that.”
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer helped organize the meeting and hopes the program will address the need for a stronger link between the public and law enforcement.
“I think the best type of law enforcement is prevention. If a crime happens that has a direct impact on us, (the board of supervisors and OSCO) need to have a good working relationship with the public to get them the information they need so they can make decisions and take action,” Trainer said. “Safety and good relationships are the top priorities. We need to have an open line of communication between the law enforcement and the general public so they can voice their concerns. We need to have people who are being proactive and reporting inappropriate activity going on in the community so they can provide what needs to be provided to law enforcement.”
Quinn said he wants Oktibbeha County citizens to know the board of supervisors are getting involved in their communities and wards and will be hosting community meetings.
“(The program) makes the community feel comfortable with calling us and letting us know about (suspicious activity),” he said. “We want people to know (OCSO has) an open-door policy and we want to hear the community’s concerns,”
Gladney said he has received substantial feedback from the community and is eager to get the neighborhood watch program started.
“We’re in the process now of getting signs and pamphlets to be able to hand out. I’m excited about this first meeting and getting people involved and hearing what they have to say,” Gladney said. “I think it’s a good all-around plan to have, getting more people involved in communities and county. The more people you get involved, the better off we would be because we can get more information. Hopefully it will detour a lot of the house break-ins and that type of thing.”