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Springtree Neighborhood Watch expanding after crime spike

11:04 PM, Aug 4, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- July was a deadly month in Jacksonville.
It was the first month this year that homicide cases numbered in the double digits. In light of the spike in crime and a tragic murder, one neighborhood is stepping up its crime watch program.

"We have to band together now because the crime is so bad now. It's getting critical and we got to do something about it," said Gary McClendon, coordinator of the Springtree Neighborhood Watch Program.

The neighborhood watch group was created about six years ago.

McClendon says the group is made up of 15 dedicated members who help patrol the neighborhood five days a week. 

John Kidd is a member and says he's seen first-hand how a neighborhood watch program can make everyone safer.

"About two years ago I saw two young men strolling through the neighborhood and as I did my drive. I ran into them three or four times in the course of my drive. They were just roaming the neighborhood so I called, reported the suspicious activity, and the Sheriff's department came out, intercepted the guys and both of them had records. So who knows what we prevented," said Kidd.

After the death of 22-year-old Amber Bass last month, the group went door-to-door to help police find out if any nearby residents saw or heard anything the morning she was shot and killed. 

"You've got to be proactive in a neighborhood watch. I don't believe in a neighborhood watch just sitting in the house and looking out the window. You have to let the criminals know that you are actively participating in trying to keep them from coming in your neighborhood," said McClendon.

Our news partner the Florida Times-Union reports Jacksonville had 15 homicides in July, the highest it's been this year. 

Springtree Neighborhood watch members believe with their help, and the help of more programs like theirs, the citizens of Jacksonville can prevent crime.

"We're not policemen. All we do is report what we see and let the police come in and take their responsibility. But without our eyes, they can't be here 24 hours a day," added Kidd.

Since Bass' death the group has put up a website to get more of the neighborhood involved. 

Residents can go on the site and report suspicious activity or concerns directly to the neighborhood watch group.

First Coast News

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