By Maria Rosa Higgins Fallon
In Coral Gables, you can be sure that your neighbors are watching.
That is because for 30 years, a wellorganized group of citizen volunteers and members of the Coral Gables Citizens’ Crime Watch have been safeguarding their blocks, their neighborhoods and surrounding areas by keeping a watchful eye for suspicious activities and protecting their homes and families from the “bad guys.”
The Coral Gables Citizens’ Crime Watch was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the summer of 1980 after community activists combined their efforts to take a stand against crime. Today, hundreds of Coral Gables residents are looking out for each other in their neighborhoods, keeping tabs on any police reports nearby, and reporting unusual and suspicious activities to the Police Department.
Beyond preventing crime and reducing fear, Crime Watchers have forged a strong bond among themselves while looking out for the safety of their own surroundings. Citizen and law enforcement relationships also have improved. With the support of the police and fire departments, Crime Watch makes regular presentations regarding crime/fire prevention and public safety information to neighborhoods, civic groups and religious organizations in Coral Gables.
“The success of this program depends on the ongoing participation of the citizens of Coral Gables and the commitment of our law enforcement to protect and safeguard this city,” said Coral Gables Interim Police Chief Richard Naue. “Crime can definitely be reduced when citizens are more vigilant and aware.”
The Coral Gables Citizens’ Crime Watch is governed by a board of directors which meets monthly and is formed by representatives from more than 20 local organizations including the Kiwanis Club, Garden Club, Business Improvement District, Rotary Club and University of Miami, among others. The organization has an executive director whose office is located at the Police Building in Downtown Coral Gables.
Beyond the popular block parties which are scheduled to bring awareness to residents, Crime Watch also is involved in organizing the Mobile Patrol units where trained residents —who are keenly aware of their neighborhood faces and routines — cruise along in police vehicles looking for signs of potential trouble. Crime Watch signs installed throughout neighborhoods also act as a deterrent to crime.
The non-profit also sponsors selfdefense classes, arranges for home security checks and the installation of DataDot anti-theft property trackers, and informs the community about fraud alerts, senior safety tips, fire prevention, drug abuse education, graffiti prevention, and homeland security issues.
To contact the Coral Gables Citizens’ Crime Watch, call 305-441-5760.