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Neighborhood block watch efforts aim to blanket city

SNOHOMISH — The city’s Public Safety Commission unanimously gave its endorsement to the Snohomish Coalition of Neighborhood Blockwatch last week.
Last month, the Tribune reported the coalition’s beginnings as organizers such as Donna Ray and John Kartak worked to get it off the ground. Kartak is still formulating the Central Neighborhood Watch while Ray’s successful Morgantown Neighborhood Watch is the model being used for other potential watches to form and join the Coalition.
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Marty Zelaya, who is the captain of the Blackmans Lake Neighborhood Watch, is also getting involved.
Zelaya is in Community Out-reach with the sheriff’s office’s Office of Neighborhoods and often travels throughout the county educating people about neighborhood watches and community crime prevention.
Zelaya offered some official insight in his capacity as a sergeant with a presentation to the Public Safety Commission meeting last week, telling the room one of the best tools for police is communication from residents. Zelaya also said an individual’s best tool for crime prevention is awareness and personal responsibility.
“I want to get one message clear: We as individuals are ultimately responsible for our own safety,” Zelaya said. “I am responsible for my own safety, and we have agencies available to help us with that. But ultimately,
we are responsible such as for getting things like training, CPR training, first aid training, if you choose to use firearms for self-defense, and making sure you get adequate training for that so that you can be a responsible individual.”
The law enforcement side of crime prevention is only one “arm” of what Zelaya
described from Felson’s “crime triangle,” in that law enforcement can help catch the bad guys or inform the public about those that commit crimes.
The other two arms of the crime triangle are the location and the potential target (the victim), both of which are controlled by a person in a potential crime situation.  
Neighborhood watches are necessary, Zelaya said,
because they deal with preventing the crime triangle by seeking to control two arms of it, in part with more eyes watching the location.
“If we can remove one or more of those elements of that crime triangle, we have removed the chance of the crime occurring,” Zelaya said, adding that offenders interviewed by he and other law enforcement have told them they think about location and how the potential victim or target may respond.
“Because of the challenges Snohomish County is facing with the heroin epidemic, that’s become increasingly more challenging, attacking the crime triangle,” Zelaya said.
According to Zelaya, forming a neighborhood watch is as simple as getting to know your neighbors, creating a designated area of about five to 10 houses, filling out data sheets to share only with neighbors and being vigilant about communication. Zelaya said one of the most effective ways for communications and sharing information among neighbors about crime or concerns is to create a private Facebook page.
The more communication, the better. The more people watch and observe their surroundings, and are able to report from a safe distance any crime they see to police, the more effective a neighborhood block watch can be.
The block watch coalition is actively recruiting people to join and to teach others how to start a block watch
for their own neighborhoods. Community informational meetings will soon be organized.
Anyone interested in
taking part in the coalition can contact the public safety commission via the city or Snohomish Police Chief John Flood, or contact Donna Ray by emailing: morgantownneighborhood
The city public safety commission meets every second Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m. in the Snohomish Fire District 4 training facility at Avenue D and 15th Street.


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