City Watch program looks to partner police, community members through internet alerts
By Sondra Murphy
The Kunkle Room was more crowded than usual Wednesday as Oak View Civic Council members gathered to elect a new board. Nominations were plentiful with several positions having more than one candidate.
Honorary Mayor Al Buczkowski, who was elected in April during the Oak View Awards Banquet, tallied the ballots and the winners are as follows: President John Herndon; Vice President Jill Olivares; Second Vice President Pat Stone; Treasurer Guinevere Johnson; Secretary Lynn Smith; Parliamentarian Catherine Lee; Member at Large Randy Burg; Member at Large Elizabeth Tousignant
Pat Gorey, previous treasurer, has meticulously served two years and bylaws require a replacement for board positions after that time whenever new candidates are available. Dee Harper and Danna Prock were also nominated in the member at large categories and Johnson was nominated for secretary, as well.
After the election, the new board continued with the agenda. Buczkowski had arranged to have Sgt. Joe Evans with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department come speak to the council about the City Watch program being organized in the Ojai Valley.
Still in the early phases, the program uses internet resources to communicate crime incidents to neighborhood watch groups and other partnerships concerned with increasing safety and security in their areas.
Evans took questions first and the community was primarily concerned with gang activity in its many forms, but especially shootings, graffiti and why gang members are so antagonistic to each other.
“It’s a mutual thing and they’re all at fault,” said Evans. “They don’t play in the sandbox very well together.” He went on to say that the goal for the Ojai Valley City Watch is to get 15,000 people in the valley who are willing to call the police when they witness criminal activity.
By signing up to be a part of the City Watch program, the Sheriff’s Department will be able to send out incident emails to participants in an effort to identify perpetrators. “All our crimes blend into each other,” said Evans. “When we have crime trends in the valley, information will go out to everybody on the e-mail lists to request reports. It opens up the communication between the people in the community.”
Evans organized a successful City Watch when he worked out of Thousand Oaks and is using this experience to help improve communication between the police and residents. By knowing what is going on, it increases security within communities. “When you can’t get information to resolve your fear, that’s when it’s a problem,” said Evans. “Make no mistake. This is about arresting people.”
As the Ojai Valley City Watch program develops, additional information will be made available on how to get involved. For more information, contact Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org.