CUYAHOGA FALLS: The Quirk Cultural Center Neighborhood Watch was formed in May and it has already helped Cuyahoga Falls Police nab a suspected drug abuser and juveniles who had been vandalizing property.
Cuyahoga Falls police Chief Tom Pozza said the volunteers followed his mantra of “see something, say something.”
One of the arrests came June 15 when a resident called police to report a suspicious couple in the park around midnight.
The volunteer kept a safe distance and reported the couple’s movements to a police dispatcher.
When police arrived at Quirk Cultural Center, the couple was found sitting at a picnic table.
A 19-year-old Akron woman was arrested for possession of Oxycodone, and several misdemeanors including underage drinking and possession of marijuana. Her 20-year-old companion was not charged.
Pozza said he instructs the volunteers to not make contact with any suspicious person.
“I don’t like neighborhood watch folks carrying guns,” Pozza said. “I would prefer that they notify police or professionals to handle problems. Police are paid to fight with people when the need arises. Citizens aren’t.”
The Quirk Neighborhood Watch is one of three in different stages of organization in Ward 2, guided by Councilwoman Mary Ellen Pyke.
Pyke helped them recruit and organize neighbors by scheduling a meeting and delivering fliers to homes near the park.
They followed the National Sheriff’s Association’s USAWatch.org guidelines by meeting with police, listing their concerns, developing an action plan, picking a captain and choosing a method of communication.
Ward 1 Councilman Vincent Rubino said at least one formal watch is under construction in his ward.
Heather Lyell Shaw, who along with Council President Don Walters formed the Cuyahoga Falls Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, is captain of the Indian Mountain Neighborhood Watch that is becoming more formalized.
Shaw and her neighbors had already watched out for each other for years, she said.
Watches don’t have to be formal, Pozza said.
“Everybody should be doing it anyway,” he said. “There have been many times someone saw something suspicious to them and were able to foil a crime by calling police.”
He talked about a recent incident, where a man called police after watching a woman dispose of a backpack behind a State Road business. Inside the backpack was a portable meth lab. The woman was arrested.
Pyke said having police act as partners with the watch groups helps define the role each plays.
“A watch is just that — you watch and report suspicious activity,” Pyke said. “I know we have the right in this state to carry a concealed gun with the proper permit. But I don’t think things are that bad we need to be walking around our neighborhoods with guns. This is a great city.”