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Neighborhood watch aims to bring security to community

August 26, 2018

For many people in The Woodlands, their neighborhood itself is a constant, although seemingly invisible, guardian of streets, homes and residents.

That “invisible” sentinel is actually The Woodlands Township Neighborhood Watch, the members of which have stood guard of the various villages and neighborhoods in the community as it’s grown since its inception in 1984.

Marian Leck, director of law enforcement and neighborhood services for The Woodlands, said for the first time in its history, members of the watch are using social media to engage residents and heighten awareness to the safety of the community.

“We found that after trying various things, Facebook might be the way to engage residents with the watch,” Leck said. “We can coordinate and community can see what’s going on.”

The organization’s Facebook presence has only been live for about three weeks or so, Leck said, but it already boasts 300 followers and counting. It’s the first such leap for the watch, which previously hosted a blog and newsletter with relatively low readership, Leck added.

“We thought we’d try it,” Leck said of the Facebook group. “And slow, but sure, we’re getting there.”

The Neighborhood Watch got its start when the Township was still two villages, today there are nine villages in total, and remains the only official such organization in The Woodlands.

The organization’s mission, Leck said, is still — as it was then — to create a sense of community through education and partnership with law enforcement in the area, including the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Harris County in Creekside Park.

“Everything we do, we do with law enforcement,” Leck said.

Besides their biggest event of the year, National Night Out, the three full-time staffers involved with the Neighbhorhood watch organize community awareness workshops and safety days where they coach residents on different aspects of safety like identity theft prevention and crime prevention.

But safety, Leck said, starts at the individual level. Everybody, essentially, should be on patrol — individuals who are in their neighborhood every day know best what belongs there and what doesn’t. The whole point of the neighborhood watch, or community policing as a whole, is to build trust in the residents and instill a confidence in them should they see something out of place.

With the diverse community in The Woodlands from all over the world, Leck advises residents to get to know new neighbors as well as possible and for newcomers to become familiar with the law enforcement resources available to them, should they need them.

“All of us have to contribute to the safe community,” Leck said. “The more we can do to educate our residents, the more safe the community will be.”

mrincon@chron.com

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