BANGOR, Maine — The recent successes of Bangor’s existing neighborhood watch programs have prompted another neighborhood to get organized and piqued the interest of residents of other streets.
The inaugural meeting of the newly minted East Side Watch — the third such group to form in the Queen City — drew more than a large crowd to the Bangor Police Department’s training room on Thursday night.
The department’s community relations pointman, Officer Jason McAmbley, was pleased with the turnout.
“I stopped counting at 60,” he said, calling Thursday’s showing “a huge first step.”
McAmbley said the group already is using one of the anti-crime tools at their disposal — getting to know each other. That initial step, he said, allows neighbors to determine who doesn’t belong at a residence and when.
Another plunge they have taken is getting word of their existence.
“People’s behavior changes when they know they are being watched,” he said.
Though Thursday’s gathering originally was intended for residents of the neighborhood encompassing Maple, Grove, State and Garland streets, people who live on other Bangor streets — including Essex and Webster — also turned out, based on a show of hands at the start of the nearly two-hour session.
Pauline Civiello, one of the organizers of East Side Watch, said that representative of her neighborhood met with members of the West Side Watch to learn how and why that group came together and what members have been doing to make their neighborhood safer.
During the gathering, residents of the target area — which includes Chapin Park and nearby Abraham Lincoln School — discussed problems they hope to attack, problems experienced in several other Bangor neighborhoods.
These problems include drug activity, burglaries and thefts, drunk drivers and speeders, motor vehicle burglaries, vandalism, resident sex offenders and absentee landlords whose tenants are out of control. Parents in the group said they are worried about the safety of their children.
A mother of three said she was worried about the safety of her children. She said children playing in Chapin Park have been approached by suspicious characters, even when out in groups of five or more.
An older woman said she has felt violated since a recent break-in at her home. She said police officers she reported the incident to told her that the person or people who made their way into her home through a locked window likely were looking for drugs or cash.
“It has left me very frightened,” she said.
Some residents said they have been writing down the license plate numbers of suspected drug dealers and passing them on to police.
Bangor already had two such groups before East Side Watch began coming together this summer.
The first one, Streamside Community, is a relatively small program that started up about a year and a half ago off Finson Road, McAmbley said earlier.
Next to coalesce was West Side Watch, which formed last fall and now has a core group of about 20 members, most of whom are property owners. That group recently celebrated their successes during Bangor’s first National Night Out, a family friendly event that McAmbley noted drew 200 people to Second Street Park.
Before wrapping up, the group began making plans for a website or Facebook page, having brochures made and getting neighborhood watch signs printed and posted. They set their next meeting for Thursday, Oct. 18.
For information about East Side Watch, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on forming a neighborhood watch program, call McCambley at 947-7384, ext. 4228, or email him at Jason.email@example.com.