Neighborhood watch emphasizes safety lessons

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The FBI’s crime report released Monday, showed fluctuations in crime rates – but a small decline in property crimes in Kansas. In community policing efforts, officers often say neighborhood watch and association groups make a big impact.

Look through the Westlink neighborhood and you’ll see plenty of neighborhood watch signs. That’s because Westlink has one of the strongest associations in the city of Wichita, according to police.

“In today’s day and age, this is kind of like a pocket of traditionalism in a way,” said Brian Timmons. “I’ve never felt like I was vulnerable or that I had to be extra cautious.”

It’s a pretty common sentiment from residents there, in an area where neighbors seem to know each other.

“If they don’t know their neighbor, go next door and introduce yourself,” said Linda Shinogle, who’s a board member for the Westlink Association. “You never know when you’re going to need some help and it’s important that you’re around to help if there’s the need.”

From newsletters to meetings with police, fire and EMS, they regularly work with law enforcement to learn the best ways to protect each other. This year, the group has put a special emphasis on safety.

Community safety was the focus of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, during a visit to Hutchinson earlier this month.

“We are determined to improve the safety of our communities,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “There were 40 percent more murders in Kansas last year than the 10-year average.”

While police say they patrol wherever they can, but homeowners like Shinogle and Timmons make a big difference.

“It’s important to watch,” Shingole said. “Watch for your neighbors, be sure to know if there’s anything that looks strange. If anyone is strange in the area, we work together, we have community activities together.”