Yorkville seeks Neighborhood Watch program

YORKVILLE – The Yorkville Police Department will be creating a Neighborhood Watch program. This is the second time at this attempt; the first attempt was eight years ago.

“We tried this several years back, the new mayor now (Blair Closser) was on council, when I had just started as chief,” said John Morelli, Yorkville Police Chief. “We tried it then and there was little response from people, but not enough to really go through with anything, so we kind of held off on it.”

Closser was on council during the first attempt at creating a Neighborhood Watch. As of late, there have been several break ins, vandalism and complaints of drug use. With these rising issues, they felt that it was time to give the Neighborhood Watch another try.

According to Morelli, there has been a better response this time around from people in and out of the area. The Yorkville Police Department made a post on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

“It is still too early to say for sure how everything is going to go. We will see what the response is,” Morelli said. “We will then bring it up in council and see if anyone comes to that. Hopefully, we will get a good enough response to start meeting and get everybody coordinated.”

Morelli’s hopes for the Neighborhood Watch is to make people more aware of what is going on in the surrounding area.

“It’s not like it was several years ago in most communities. Everybody knew everybody and knew their neighbors,” Morelli said. “In this day and age, people come and go, we have rental apartments where the neighbors don’t really know a lot of their neighbors, even in a small community like (Smithfield).”

The goal of the Neighborhood Watch is not so much citizens doing a foot patrol, but more of a network of neighbors and communities where people are more alert and contacting police if they see something.

According to Morelli, the Facebook page that was established several months ago has been helpful and is still receiving messages from concerned citizens with information.

“Seven or eight years later, crime everywhere is really increasing,” Morelli said. “I think (people will be more interested) because they are seeing more (crimes), we never really had them back then. We had some here and there, but I think it is becoming an everyday occurrence in local areas. We are trying to get a jump on it before it gets too bad and get people involved.”

Morelli is encouraging everyone involved with the Neighborhood Watch to contact them when they see something.

For more information about the Neighborhood Watch, call the Yorkville Police Department at 740-859-2947.