RA Hosts Watch Workshop

RA Hosts Watch Workshop

Crime Prevention Officer speaks about neighborhood watches.

Crime Prevention Officer Katy Defoe speaks to a group at the Reston Association Headquarters Tuesday, March 6 about neighborhood watch programs.

Crime Prevention Officer Katy Defoe speaks to a group at the Reston Association Headquarters Tuesday, March 6 about neighborhood watch programs. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— The Reston Association hosted an informational meeting about neighborhood watch programs Tuesday, March 6, featuring county Crime Prevention Officer Katy Defoe.

Defoe said that neighborhood watches are flexible, they can be anything from an e-mail chain to a group that actually patrols their neighborhood. The county requires a coordinator who serves as liaison between the community and the crime prevention office.

"It is what the community wants to make it. Obviously, a high-rise apartment building has different issues than a single family home neighborhood with a thousand houses in it," she said. "We do not dictate, as the county, what kind of watch you are required to have. We know everyone has different needs."

Defoe said the county also asks that neighborhood watches function in a strictly "observe and report" manner, not "act and report." She said they also ask that watch members do not carry concealed firearms, that they carry a cell phone and that no one goes on watch alone.

Defoe pointed to a recent local example of how a neighborhood watch can aid the police with information gathering.

"Currently Glade Drive has been hit by a lot of graffiti, at least nine that were related to each other, and about a dozen more in about the same time frame," she said. "The neighborhood watch collected all the affected addresses all the places in the common area, and sent them to me along with pictures. That lets us make a police report, each of which can lead to a charge."

Defoe said she hopes watches empower people to contact the police, saying that neighborhoods with watch programs tend to have more give and take when it comes to police reports.

"If you think something is out of the ordinary, then it’s out of the ordinary," she said. "There is no right or wrong answer, as police, that’s our job. Suspicious activity is anything you think is out of the ordinary, and we can drive by and check on it every single day if needed."

Arlene Whittck, neighborhood outreach specialist with the Reston Association, says these events are the RA’s attempt to connect with the representatives of clusters and other homeowners associations in the area.

"We’re trying to present educational information that is beneficial for residents and their boards," she said. "We want people to take this information back to their board to give them some basic information and let them understand what can be done."

Rengin Morro, co-chair of the Reston Neighborhood Advisory Committee, says the committee is holding monthly meetings that will address various issues faced by Reston neighborhoods.

More information is available at www.reston.org.