Police highlight importance of neighborhood watch after recent homicides in Greensboro

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro police are highlighting the importance of watchful neighbors following four recent homicides that have led detectives to actively search for leads and suspects with the help of the community.

Police realize that neighbors know their surrounding community best. That’s one reason police rely on neighborhood watches to help keep crime in check.

It’s not a new concept; you've likely seen watch warning signs posted around town at one point or another.

The City of Greensboro has a record 179 watch groups on the books and in some areas those watchful neighbors are making a difference.

For more than 30 years, Tico Wallace and his wife have lived comfortably and quietly in their Darden Road Greensboro home. And that’s how they want to keep it.

“That's our main thing, somebody kicking in the back door; coming home and the TV is gone,” said Tico Wallace, who heads his neighborhood watch.

What Tico doesn't spot, neighbors do.

"I'm always looking for something that might be a little out of place,” said Wallace. "You can put up as many signs in the neighborhood as you want, but you need the eyes; you need the people out there looking."

Neighbors along Darden Road make up one of 179 community watches in Greensboro. This includes apartment and neighborhood business watches.

Greensboro police say the department has recorded the highest number of watches ever -- and five more were added this year during National Night Out.

"Having neighbors look out for neighbors; that’s big,” said Wallace.

It’s a partnership between taxpayers who want to feel safe and police who realize they can’t be everywhere at all times.

"It's extremely critical; we rely on the neighborhoods to let us know what's going on in the neighborhoods,” said Greensboro Police Officer E.Y. Watkins. “Without the neighborhood watches, we'd have a lot harder job."

Dozens of Greensboro police officers spent last week canvassing local neighborhoods following four homicides; the goal being to try and develop leads and new information in the deadly shootings and also connect with neighbors to discuss crime.

Along Darden Road, home break-ins are traditionally the concern but Wallace says he’s noticed a difference since neighbors formed a watch.

"In the last 4 to 5 years, our crime is definitely down."

This is because of alert neighbors and monthly meetings, where people who have a stake in the area’s safety also discuss crime, and how to protect your home.

"Everyone wants to feel safe and relaxed in their home, if you don't; it's really not a home,” said Watkins.

For more information about how to start a community watch in your community, visit www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=1913

"It just feels good that you don't have to worry every time you leave the house that somebody is going to kick in the back door,” said Wallace.

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