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MCKINLEYVILLE- Crime in the unincorporated areas has caused citizens across Humboldt County to take action, but one new organization is changing the meaning of a neighborhood watch.
“You can see headlines every day of break-ins and trespassing, and property crime and it's taken away our property values, it's dangerous for our kids and it's making people not want to move here and that's not what I want,” said McKinleyville Area Citizens Patrol Founder Dave Varshock.
Fed up with crime in his own neighborhood, Dave Varshock decided to take matters into his own hands.
“We’re trying to organize the neighborhood watches across McKinleyville to give them a centralized place to share information, photos, stories, whatever we can share, that's the missing link is there's neighborhood watches out there but they're not talking,” Varshock said.
On November 13, 41 residents joined that conversation, attending the first meeting of the McKinleyville area citizens patrol
“There was a wide variety of people in the community a wide variety of political viewpoints with everybody coming together to say how can we get this information collated, get this information to do the most bang for the buck,” said Dennis Mayo,
Director of the McKinleyville Community Services District.
What makes this patrol group so unique is its use of technology. Citizens are being asked to leave their weapons behind, and instead, arm themselves with a flashlight and a cell phone. The organization is encouraging the use of smart phones and Facebook as a forum to report crime and share their concerns.
“I spoke with the undersheriff, he is really thrilled about the idea of having a resource that they can go to that's almost in real time,” Varshock said. “When they spend their limited resources up here, we're going to give them a place and the ability to target those resources. Hey, here's what's going on from the people that are experiencing it.”
The group hopes to eventually expand from Facebook to another website, and even a newsletter. However, the ideas are still in the early stages.
“The hardest part is getting the ball rolling,” Varshock said. “You've got to start somewhere and we've provided that start. Now we need the rest of the community to pitch in and say hey we understand, there is a need for this and start helping.”
And for an area plagued by small crime, citizens say they are ready to do whatever it takes to keep their streets safe
“I do think it's needed I think it would help a lot for the kids and with crime in particular,” said McKinleyville Resident Tom Laier.
For more information visit the group’s Facebook page here.
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