MILTON-FREEWATER — Residents wanting to learn what they can do to fight crime in Umatilla County are encouraged to attended a rural Neighborhood Watch meeting on Monday.
“Just starting one of these units drops crime probably 20 percent, by just starting a group and getting their signs put up and having the meetings,” Sgt. Greg Hodgen of the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention said.
On Feb. 6 and 8, a total of 400 people attended community safety meetings in Umapine and Milton-Freewater.
The meetings were a response to escalating crime in rural areas, especially the recent brutal home invasion assault of a 79-year-old woman.
At those meetings, county officials told residents the only feasible solution because of a lack of funds is to organize Neighborhood Watch programs and focus on getting to know their neighbors.
People who are interested in forming a Neighborhood Watch will need to be able to pass a background check.
Once qualified, Umatilla County Neighborhood Watch members receives regular updates from the Sheriff’s office on recent crimes and can attended special training seminars.
“We cover everything from target-hardening your home to home protection to children’s issue and what to do if you got in a real dangerous situation out there,” Hodgen said.
Washington residents are welcome to attend Monday’s meeting, but Hodgen said they will not be able to join Umatilla County Neighborhood Watch program. However, he added, Walla Walla County has similar programs.
The meeting will take place at 109 N.E. Fifth Ave. at 6 p.m.