Mexico Police Department, Explorers to start neighborhood watch
by Matthew Daigle
MEXICO — The Police Department and the Mexico Explorers program will host a meet-and-greet with residents this month to discuss an upcoming neighborhood watch program, interim police Chief Roy Hodsdon said Friday.
Hodsdon said the idea for the program came from reserve police officer Cam Barrieau.
“Cam came up to me last spring, around the time the burglaries in town were increasing, and proposed the idea of a neighborhood watch for our town, and I told him that I thought it'd be a great idea,” Hodsdon said. “It's always been in the back of our mind as something we should do.”
Hodsdon said the meet-and-greet will be announced to the press and on the department Facebook page when a date is set.
The community response has been “overwhelmingly” in favor of a neighborhood watch, he said.
“We made a post on our Facebook asking residents what they thought about a neighborhood watch, and we've heard nothing but good things about it,” Hodsdon said. “Once we set a date for the meet-and-greet, residents will get to come in and share what their expectations are and some of the ideas they have for the town.”
The plan is to focus on two or three areas in town, though Hodsdon said if the community has a certain area they want officers and the Mexico Explorers to focus on, they'll listen.
“When I worked with the Jay Police Department some years ago, I helped run their neighborhood watch program, and it helped out,” he said. “We're just trying to curb some of the crime that's been going on lately. It's a good community policing program.”
Public Safety Symposium garners little attention
Two parents show up for public safety event
by DC Spencer
More than 3,000 students attend Cañon City public schools, but only two parents showed up Saturday at the Public Safety Symposium at Harrison School.
"If we reach two parents, it's better than no parents," said Robyn Vidmar, Cañon City Police School Resource Officer for Cañon City High School and one of the symposium organizers.
Sponsored jointly by the Cañon City School District and the CCPD, the open-ended, come-and-go event was designed to inform parents about the programs available to ensure their children's safety. It also provided access to representatives from local agencies committed to the health and well-being of the community.
Student volunteers, ages 10-16, from last summer's Junior Law Enforcement Academy and several professionals spent the day waiting to interact with the public that never showed up.
Professional volunteers represented the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts, Cañon City Police, American Medical Response, Cañon City Fire Department, Rachel's Challenge-Chain of Kindness, Kids at Hope, Fremont County Family Center, 11th Judicial District Attorney's Office, the Elks Drug Awareness Program, Fremont County Sheriff's Office and Search and Rescue.
Topics ranged from identity theft, scams, bullying and gun safety to sexting, Internet safety and personal self-defense among many others.
"It's kind of hard to get people to come," said student volunteer Olivia Hapl, a sophomore at CCHS who manned the gun safety table. "Gun safety is really important. It would be good for their parents to have come."
Hapl, who volunteers in other information endeavors such as Safety Town, said the personal safety presentation was also critical. "I think a lot of kids should get that, especially the girls."
Vidmar said the personal safety presentation was included as a way of "empowering kids how to fight back." The old approach of "Stranger Danger" is out-of-date because a great majority of assaults on children are by family members or close friends, she added.
Parent Kathy Rodenbeck-Horrell, mother of a 5-year-old boy, visited the many displays and came away with new information.
"I think it's great," she said. "I've learned that the Boy Scouts start at first grade. The Fremont Search and Rescue are very helpful. They say not to be scared to call them. They don't charge."
She also learned from Search and Rescue volunteers how to prepare her kindergartner should he ever be separated from the family on an outing.
"The best thing for a child is to have a whistle and stay where they are," she said.
Symposium initiator CCPD Officer Tim Bell serves as the School Resource Officer for Harrison School. He is also the father of five, and a recent school incident prompted his idea for staging an educational symposium for parents.
"On the first day of school, we had a lock-out situation at the Cañon City Middle School," Bell said. "We didn't want someone who was fleeing the police running into the school building."
But other dangers also threaten today's young people, he said.
"Sexting is a huge issue," Bell said, as is Internet safety. "We open up the world to these kids but we don't do anything to protect them."
In an effort to draw parents to the symposium, local merchants donated meals and treats to be awarded to the winners of a drawing. Winners received dinners from Pizza Madness and the Royal Gorge Brewing Company which included coupons to Cold Stone Creamery and two free movie tickets to Skyline Theatre.
Bell said they "blasted the media" with information about the all-day symposium and also initiated reverse calls to parents of school-age children so they would know about the event.
Looking around the empty auditorium, noting the professionals who sat waiting at their tables laden with information, give-aways, and even candy for crowds that never came, Bell was visibly disappointed.
"We're all here to reach out to help parents with their kids," he said. "And we don't have the parents. It's frustrating. Everybody here cares. We all care."
Take extra precautions around schools, buses
by Darren Campbell
Nov. 14, 2012, started as a day like many others. School was letting out and everyone was excited to be headed home.
Frank Booth was on his job just the way he was most days, directing traffic in front of Mt. Mourne School. This was a job that Frank enjoyed by all accounts. Those who knew him have told me he was always there to help. He took a great deal of pride in directing traffic.
It is a job that most people would probably rather not do, but Frank liked it a lot. The weather can be cold and wet, and people do not always pay attention to the crossing guard.
On that afternoon, Frank lost his life directing traffic. As we approach the anniversary of Frank's death, please take some extra time around our schools and be careful.
There are more than 30 public schools in Iredell County educating more than 21,000 children every day.
Getting those children safely into the school and back home each day is an enormous responsibility.
Whether those children ride a bus or come to the school in a car, we owe it to them and ourselves to drive with extra care in school zones. Our schools have reduced speed limits in the area in order to lower the potential for accidents. With students walking in the area and crossing guards directing traffic, there are plenty of reasons to slow down near any school.
Passing stopped school buses is another problem our community has not been immune from.
Just last month, a child was hit and killed by a motorist in Rowan County.
Two years ago, we had a student in Iredell County killed while attempting to board a school bus. If you are approaching a school bus with flashing yellow lights, prepare to stop. Stop for the yellow lights, not because the law requires it, but because it might save a child's life. A child you may not be able to see could be running out into the road early. As adults, we know that children do not always follow the rules or understand the danger they may be subjecting themselves to.
Those of us in law enforcement take enforcing these school safety laws seriously. We have been using new camera technology to catch violators passing stopped school buses for a couple of years. We are also deploying unmarked cars to follow buses and ensure that drivers are following the rules to avoid accidents.
Another tactic we have been trying is to randomly place uniformed officers on school buses to help promote safety.
The N.C. General Assembly has made the offense of passing a stopped school bus the most severe of all moving violations, with no room for plea bargaining. Passing a stopped school bus is a crime that carries a heavy financial penalty.
No one leaves the house and says “I'm going to get some coffee, a newspaper and an accident.” We never schedule ourselves to have a car accident. Take a few extra minutes and slow down! Your speed might mean the difference between life and death.
As always, if you need additional information or someone to speak to your group about the many ways of keeping our communities safe, please give me a call at the Sheriff's Office 704-878-3180 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Maj. Darren Campbell is the supervisor of the Iredell County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Unit.