State grant funds East Texas neighborhood watch programs

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – The Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) held their monthly meeting in Crockett.  On the agenda, a resolution to approve an application for funds from the Governor's Office to expand neighborhood watch programs.

Neighborhood Watch groups are the first line of defense in preventing crime close to home.

"We want to know whose in the neighborhood. Why they're there," said Deputy Sheriff Joe Rogers of Nacogdoches County.

The Deep East Texas Council of Governments uses a state grant to keeps this program going in East Texas.

"This grant annually funds that program to continue to do those when neighborhoods have a high rate of crime and they band together and say we want to set up a neighborhood watch group," said Walter Diggles, Executive Director of DETCOG.

That's exactly why the residents of James McMurtray's neighborhood decided they needed to organize a watch group.

"We had several burglaries and attempted burglaries. A lot of them early in the morning," said James McMurtray, neighborhood watch member.

All twelve counties under the Deep East Texas Council see the funding. It pays for the official watch group training.

"We'll set up a time that they want to have a meeting. They'll invite all their neighbors. And we go over there and I've had meetings with upwards of 100 people and some with smaller amounts," said Rogers.

Every participant has the same goal - stopping crime in their neighborhood.

"We help them to protect their own property as well as protect other people's property," said Rogers.

After residents are trained, they receive the neighborhood watch sign.

"They say this community is an official neighborhood watch community," said Diggles.

"Right after they put this sign up... I saw two unsavory types in a junker car come in. The passenger nudged the other one when they saw this sign... They didn't bother finding a drive-way - they made a U-turn and got out," said McMurtray.

Without this grant money local law enforcement agencies wouldn't be able to afford the expensive signs and training for the neighborhoods.

And since the early 1900s neighborhood watch programs have proved their worth.

"It's a program that's been around for years. It's been proven and it works," said Rogers.

The council approved the application.

Now it will sent to the Criminal Justice division of the Governor's Office.

If approved, it will funding more training and signs for future neighborhood watch programs.

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