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Neighborhood block watches aim to launch across Snohomish

SNOHOMISH —  As a way to help get crime out of town, a group of people say it’s best to turn to your neighbors as well as police.
So they’re doing it by forming a grassroots citywide coalition of block watches, with hopes to be up and running by late spring; the effort is currently being called the “Snohomish Coalition of Neighborhood Blockwatch.”
After the consistent success of the Morgantown Neighborhood Watch cleaning up its corner of town, founder Donna Ray was inspired to start a coalition and teach other block watches around the city on the “how-to’s” of neighborhood watch duties.
Resident John Kartak, for one, is starting a large 28-block watch called the Central Neighborhood Watch.
Ray wants to help get other people in other neighborhoods started with organized block watches so that neighbors can know each other better and help report crime. That was the creed of the Morgantown watch, and the formula has proven successful.
Ray said the Coalition’s first efforts, apart from outreach, is to develop what she calls a “start-up kit” for people wanting to start and maintain a block watch
in their neighborhood. The kit will be like a blueprint of guidelines of the model Morgantown follows for the basics of setting up and running a block watch.
Crime in Morgantown is down by 96 percent since the Morgantown watch was started seven years ago. Imagine if all neighborhoods followed Morgantown’s formula and saw those kinds of drops in crime — that is the intent of the new coalition.
Ray and Kartak are setting the boundaries by a land-use map given by the city to establish the watches. They want to see more watches on what they’re calling the coalition’s “master map.”
“The map gives us a starting point to maybe help us set up some initial districting
along with that, we’ve come up with a rough plan,” Ray told the city’s Public Safety Commission at its meeting last week. “We want to have an overarching plan, sanctioned by the city and Public Safety Commission eventually, to locate them all on this master map.”
Ray said outreach will involve getting other neighborhoods and the Sheriff’s Office involved, and to make announcements that they are “rolling out the coalition” and invite people to call and connect.
Ray wants people to know their neighborhood and get involved, even if it’s just for informational purposes.
“John (Kartak) is a prime example of someone who was inspired, and we want to find more of those people,” Ray said.
Kartak’s effort, the Central Neighborhood Watch, is centrally located in town. Its boundaries are from Second Street to Sixth Street north to south, and Avenue D to Maple Street from west to east. He said things are in the beginning phases but he is “very organized.”
As more block watches get started, they can simultaneously join the Coalition for infrastructure and a standardized approach to neighborhood watching. The Coalition will soon have its own Facebook page, monthly meetings for all the neighborhood watches to foster and share information, as well as educational
seminars and forums to help the block watches evolve.
Ray and others would like to see someday that perhaps all the different neighborhoods throughout Snohomish
will be plugged in to the Coalition and no crime will go unnoticed or unseen by anyone because of their block watches. “As we build this process, we’re going to be able to help the fire (departments), the police, and the city organize the city in that way,” Ray said. “If everybody’s using these tools, and websites or apps, we can share
information and find ways to keep people active and involved.”


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