Julie Burkholder, a Lodi resident since 2006, has responded to recent concerns about crime by creating a Lodi chapter of the national Neighborhood Watch program. The program–formalized in 1972 by the National Sheriff’s Association–works closely with police to provide information and insight to law enforcement officers.
Earlier this fall, cleaning up after a late movie party with her daughter and friends, Julie noticed a car repeatedly passing her downtown home. Being familiar with traffic patterns around her house, she found this (now) early-morning behavior suspicious, and took a photo of the car and its plates.
The following morning several of her friends reported having their cars broken into–and in once case, stolen. Julie took the the photo and her insight to Chief Smith (at the time, still with the Sheriff’s Dept.). Smith suggested that she should form a local chapter of the Neighborhood Watch program.
I thought: I don’t have time for that! My husband said, “you have the time”. You know what? I *do* have time. I love this neighborhood. This is where my kids have grown up, this is where our community is, all my friends live here… I called [Cheif Smith] and said “I’m going to do this.”
Interest and Follow-up
The (as yet unofficial) Lodi Neighborhood Watch held it’s first meeting in Mid October at Reach Out Lodi with excellent turn out. Around 30 people braved bad weather to turn out for the meeting, hear to the ideas behind the program, express their concerns, and interact with police. The reaction was quite positive.
The second meeting had far fewer attendees, but progress was made. Julie re-approached those who didn’t attend the second meeting to reiterate her dedication to the project and express some disappointment in those who showed initial enthusiasm, but didn’t follow through.
What It’s About
It’s not about “fighting crime”, it’s about building community and getting to know your neighbors. Julie reminds us that knowing when something is “wrong” depends on knowing the people around you.
I want to be able to walk into Kwik-Trip and know who you are, and be “Hey. How’s it going?” We don’t live in a big town. We should be able to know the majority of people.
Julie stresses that the Neighborhood Watch is not about “taking things into your own hands”. The program works along side the police to be an extra set of eyes, and a filter. With limited staffing and a large area to patrol, the Lodi Police can’t see everything that’s going on. They also don’t have the type of constant, personal contact and good relationships that neighbors do. Those relationships help tell the difference between “there’s someone breaking into the Johnson’s house” and “That’s their daughter, returning home from college for the weekend”.
Lodi’s Neighborhood Watch works to support the Lodi Police, through their liaison, Office Michael Trevarthen. Officer Trevarthen will assist with information, training, and the legal matters associated with being part of the national program.
The Lodi group has been officially registered with the national organization. This registration–through the police department–affords the group some extra privileges, such as being able to receive information not released to the general public. Along with those privileges, however, come responsibilities.
If you’d like to learn more or get involved, the next meeting is on Nov 6th at Reach Out Lodi, or you can ask to join the Lodi Neighborhood Watch Facebook page.
A Lodi native, Blaze attended the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay where he graduated with a degree in theatre technology & design. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world–including a 6-year stint in China. He has been a teacher, a writer, a designer, and is the founder of the Redleaf Consulting Group.