Students Eye Community Watch Program

By: Michael Gorsegner Email
By: Michael Gorsegner Email

March 2, 2007

It is no surprise that much of the housing on Jefferson Park Avenue and Wertland Street is student housing. Well, now the UVa Student Council wants to create a community watch program to make those areas just a bit safer.

"We just want everybody to be safe and we also want to catch these people," said Student Council Representative Ryan Taylor.

The people Taylor is talking about are criminals, criminals like the man police say tried to sexually assault two students back in January along Wertland Street. It was that crime that lead Taylor to propose a community watch program be enacted for off grounds areas that have a high amount of students.

"It just requires something like instead of doing your homework in your room by the wall, you do your homework by your window, you leave your front light on, you display a sticker, you go to the training sessions, and if you see something suspicious you report it," Taylor said.

"I think the students who have wrapped their arms around this concept and have the desire to partner with the community that they are very much apart of to maintain a safe environment, that's a really great thing," said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.

Longo says any time you can add dozens of eyes and ears to a neighborhood it is bound to deter crime. However, he worries about the program's longevity because the student population is so transient.

"There may not be a next generation with the same interest and level of energy to make that effort sustainable over time," he said.

Despite the concerns, Taylor hopes the program will be successful.

"Once we demonstrate that we are not going to take this and we are going to see you do it, we hope it will deter any further incidents," he said.

The proposal would create a new Certified Independent Organization, meaning the program would have officers and permanent members who can keep it going even after the original members leave. Taylor says he hopes that helps sustain the project.

The Student Council will next take up the resolution on March 13.

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