Manchester Neighborhood Watch Captain Jeff Nelson said the program was started to try to help curb the vandalism, illegal drug activity and burglaries that were occurring in the community.
“We started out kind of slow — with about 10 members, but as of last month, we had grown to around 35 members. So we are growing,” Nelson said. “But hopefully with some exposure in the paper we can grow even more. We’re hoping this will help us reach the citizens living in our community who may have not seen one of our flyers.”
Nelson said the Manchester Neighborhood Watch program reaches from the Five Points area on Alabama 195 to the Cornerstone Assembly of God at the intersection of Alabama 195 and Marigold Road, and all points in between.
“Anyone, residential or business owners, who would like to become a member are welcome to join us,” Nelson said. “We meet on the last Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Blackwater Restaurant on Alabama 195 in Manchester.”
Nelson said members of the organization recently held a successful fundraiser that will now allow them to purchase some signs that will help identify Manchester as a Neighborhood Watch Community.
“We’re hoping having a Neighborhood Watch Program will help everyone living in our community feel safer, but it’s going to take the whole community to do that,” Nelson said. “I’d like see us to get back to were we are all like family and friends, neighbor looking out for neighbor.”
Nelson said members of the Manchester Neighborhood Watch do conduct patrols in the community on a regular basis - some in unmarked cars and some in marked cars that bear a neighborhood watch sign.
“We have signs on some of our vehicles, but not all of them. We are also hoping to get signs that folks can put up in their yards,” Nelson said. “We want the criminals in our county to know, we are out there watching out for the businesses and the residences in our community, and if we see anything suspicious, we are going to report it to Walker County Sheriff’s Office.”
According to Nelson, the Manchester Neighborhood Watch was modeled after a program that started in the Thach community several years ago. The members of both communities were assisted by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office in their effort to get their individual neighborhood watch programs established.
Sgt. Dayron Bridges with the Walker County Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Division assist citizens in Walker County with getting a Sheriff’s Neighborhood Watch Program established in their community, and he said the program started in Thach has become the model for all neighborhood watch programs in Walker County.
“I go to the meetings and introduce the citizens to the program, then it’s up to them to take it from there. They can make the program as big or small as they want it,” Bridges said. “In other words, make the program fit their community, it’s strictly up to them. The best program we have in this county so far, is the one in Thach.”
Bridges said the Thach Neighborhood Watch Program has set a high standard, so he tells other communities to be sure they model their program after the one in Thach.
“The folks in Thach have worked hard and have done a wonderful job. They did exactly what the Sheriff’s Neighborhood Watch Program was designed to do -— help folks get to know their neighbors, so they can watch out for each other,” Bridges said. “They also host community functions that allow everyone in the community to get together and raise money for their community.”
Bridges said the members of the Thach Neighborhood Watch have raised money to purchase storm shelters and food for those in need in their community.
“They also host political rallies, which allow the citizens in their community to learn more about the folks who are running for political office in our county,” Bridges said. “That’s what the members of the Neighborhood Watch programs in Walker County do, they watch out for each other, help neighbors in need and serve as our (law enforcement) eyes and ears in their community.”
For more information about starting a Neighborhood Watch program in your community, contact the Walker County Sheriff’s Office at 302-6464.