Neighborhood Watch May Renew Sense of Safety

A recent string of violence has spurred a group of Sioux Citians to look at re-establishing an old idea for fighting crime.
More than 30 years ago the police department worked with local leaders to coordinate neighborhood watches and help officers target illegal activity and fight crime.

Back then, some say crime was here and there.

But now in less than a month, deadly crimes in Sioux City have coincidentally happened more than once and they've already met the annual average.

Now some neighborhood leaders want to revisit the idea of communities taking ownership for their own safety.

After the latest double homicide, some people are wondering if these recent crimes will soon be a trend and if Sioux City homes and families are safe.

"We told you before these are all isolated incidents. They're acquaintances of each other. They choose the lifestyle that they want to live and sometimes you suffer those consequences of the people that you run around with so that's their isolated incidents and I don't feel the community is in any risk whatsoever," said Police Chief Doug Young in a press conference on double homicide suspect Juan Antonio Nino Estrada.

The police department may find the risk low, but people are still on alert that's why some volunteer based neighborhood coalitions and leaders want neighborhood watches to go into effect.

"All crime would be reported, you wouldn't have to put up with some drug dealer down the street because you would have a neighborhood group you could report to or a neighborhood watch and say 'hey, watch this house down here. We think there's a lot of activity going down and some of it is suspicious.' That would get recorded on a regular basis enough of that information would come in that would help build our case and then our crime rate would go down," said Rick Arnold, president of Sioux City's Neighborhood Network.

For the west side of Sioux City, where the recent crimes have occurred, leaders there say the community itself has to want a safer environment.

"If you don't have any involvement, there surely won't be any questions because people just let things go until if something bad happens," said Rev. Jessie Dupree, a former chairman with the former Westside Neighborhood Coalition.

Community leaders agree something must be done to stop crime.

Aside from neighborhood watches, they say increased police presence could rebuild neighborhood safety.

"There's been a lot of different incidents for stabbings and what not and they seem like they're all on the west side... but you know we did have police officers that would keep us abreast as to what was going on, which is a great thing cause it brings to those who are let's them-it gives them hope that someone is watching out, someone is looking out," said Dupree.

Leaders hope that having a stronger partnership with the police department and more community involvement will help Sioux City take a step towards being a crime-free place to live. OR