Town launches watch program

Crothersville chief wants residents more involved in community

CROTHERSVILLE

Crothersville residents who see criminal or suspicious activity should immediately contact the local police department.

Police Chief Brent Turner said some people already do that, but he wants everyone to become more involved. That’s his reason for starting a neighborhood watch program.

“If they just want to get out and walk their animals on a leash and they see something, I just want them to know that they can call us and let us know,” Turner said. “Getting them more involved with us and more involved in their community, that’s what we need to be at.”

Turner recently shared his plans to start the program during a Crothersville Town Council meeting.

He has set a meeting for 6 p.m. Feb. 1 at the police department, 404 Moore St., for anyone interested in getting involved.

From that point, monthly meetings would be set for people to share ideas and concerns.

“Right off, I don’t expect to have 100 people, but I would like to see at least 20, 30 people be interested,” he said. “We’ll just continue to grow with awareness and get people involved in it.”

The idea is for people from different areas of the town to be willing to keep an eye on what’s going on in their neighborhood.

“They are not getting arrest powers,” Turner said. “The only thing they are doing is they are seeing (something suspicious or criminal) and contacting their law enforcement officer.”

In the past, police chiefs in Crothersville have conducted regular meetings with the public, giving people an opportunity to talk to the chief about any issues they have and to make suggestions.

Since becoming chief this past fall, Turner said residents have talked to him about getting something similar going again.

“They want to be more involved in their own community, they want to be more involved with their law enforcement, and I just feel that having extra eyes out there, it may not stop our problem, but it will deter our problem,” Turner said.

“When I grew up, a lot of different towns would have neighborhood watches,” he said. “A lot of people have been interested in it, and I would like to give it a try. It gives us an agenda to work toward to make a greater community.”

In early 2016, the town council gave the police department approval for four full-time officers for the first time. The purpose of that was to provide 24/7 police coverage in the community.

But since three of the full-time officers hired last year — J.L. McElfresh, Christopher Cooper and Matthew Browning — had to go through the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, full coverage hasn’t been available.

McElfresh has since completed the academy, while Cooper is currently there, and Browning will go once Cooper is done.

Once they are all finished, Turner and McElfresh will rotate 12-hour shifts during the daytime, and Browning and Cooper will do the same during the night shift.

Turner has six reserve officers, but they have other full-time jobs and don’t get paid for patrolling the town. Also, two of them are going through prebasic training and don’t yet have arrest powers.

“We do have some reserves, and they cover the best they can, but people don’t understand they work 40-, 50-hour jobs, and then come do this one,” Turner said.

If you go

What: Crothersville neighborhood watch program meeting

When: 6 p.m. Feb. 1

Where: Crothersville Police Department, 404 Moore St.

Who: Town residents interested in getting involved should attend the meeting

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.