Belen Police Department to enact new citizen crime prevention program

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Police are always on the lookout for suspicious activity, but they can't be everywhere at once. That's why the Belen Police Department will soon be implementing a new program that will involve helpful residents with a keen eye.

Belen Police Chief Dan Robb will be meeting with residents later this month to implement Dog Walker Watch, a program similar to Neighborhood Watch, but based on individuals rather than a group of residents.

Robb said while it's sometimes hard for neighborhood groups to meet on a regular basis, he's noticed that there are a lot of people walking their dogs in neighborhoods.

"There are a lot of people in our community who want to make a difference in the community," Robb said. "There are also a lot of people who walk their dogs every day, and people who just walk every day, too."

Those people, the police chief says, can help make Belen better and make a difference by keeping their eyes open to suspicious activity when they're out walking their dogs or walking just for exercise.

"They probably walk a particular route every day, so I'm assuming they know what's normal there, and if there isn't something normal, hopefully they'll call us," Robb said. "They might see a suspicious person or a suspicious vehicle and I think that would help."

The first meeting of Dog Walker Watch will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 22, at the Belen Community Center at Eagle Park. The chief said everyone who attends are welcome to bring their dogs. He also invites those who also walk for exercise regularly to attend the meeting as well.

"There are a lot of walkers out there, at all different times of the day; some who are out very early in the morning, others walk in the middle of the day and some in the evening," he said.

"If we have all these eyes out there looking for suspicious activity at different times of the day, it would help us, help their neighborhoods and the community."

Robb says residents will be given information at the July 22 meeting about what kind of activity to look for, such as suspicious vehicles that are driving slowly through a neighborhood or someone lurking around a house. He'll also advise the best way to handle the situation.

The one-hour training session will teach citizens how to become more aware and alert while they are out on their normal walks. Also, officers will teach residents on how to effectively report suspicious activity to 911 using their cellphones.

"You might not know the people who live in the house on the corner but you do know what vehicles are always there, and then all of a sudden, there's a different car there and something just doesn't seem right," he said. "We're not asking people to confront these suspicious people. We don't know what their motive is, and they can be very dangerous people.

"We don't want them to confront people. We're just going to ask people to call in as much information as they can so that we'll be able to respond accordingly."

The police chief said that people who walk their dogs and who walk for exercise on a regular basis would be a great resource for the police department. While they're out doing their daily routine, they can also keep an eye out.

"It's probably better to look up than looking down when you're walking anyway," Robb said.

Anyone interested in participating in the Dog Walker Watch program or who have questions, can call the Belen Police Department at 864-6288.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.