COLUMBIA, Mo. - With violent crimes and homicides on the rise this year, the Columbia Neighborhood Watch is encouraging more people to get involved to help lower the amount of crime in their area.
In 2016, 116 people attended neighborhood watch trainings. Of that number 101 were new members, and 19 new captains signed up. According to the board president, Irwin Schneider, progress so far this year compared to last year hasn't changed dramatically.
"It takes a bit of desire but it doesn't really take that much time," Schneider said in response to why a huge increase in the number of participants hasn't happened.
When asked if crime hot spot areas have neighborhood watches, Schneider said the numbers aren't where the watch would like them to be. He didn't have any numbers available for how many watches are in the different locations in Columbia.
"Statistically, we know that neighborhoods that have neighborhood watches have less crime than other neighborhoods," he said.
ABC 17 News spoke with some residents on Derby Ridge, in North Columbia, who had mixed feelings about whether the neighborhood needed a watch. One resident, Marcel Lambert, attended several north neighborhood meetings earlier this year that ABC 17 News also attended. At those meetings, Lambert voiced the need for a neighborhood watch due to the amount of crime. When we spoke with Lambert today, he said trying to get a neighborhood watch together has been tough.
"We tried. Me and a couple of other neighbors tried to organize something and get some people in the neighborhood to participate but nothing really happened," Lambert said. "Nobody followed through. A lot of them just backed off and some just moved away."
Lambert and Schneider both emphasized the heavy presence of renters in the north neighborhood which Schneider said results in "people not being as interested in investing in their neighborhood."
Schneider said the board is willing to travel to places where residents would like to hold a training and introduction meeting but residents have to request it and show up.