Canton Neighborhood Watch holds meeting
CANTON - "Eyes are watching in Canton."
That message was on a sign outside the Ecumenical Church recently in Canton as the Canton Neighborhood Watch held its second meeting, inside the church.
The meeting was held Friday to provide information about the fledgling crime watch organization, go over the proposed bylaws, and to sign up members.
Mark Elmstrom, who is organizing the neighborhood watch, said 20 people are needed for the group, in order to cover the streets adequately.
They're hoping to reduce crime in the borough through walking and driving tours in which neighborhood watch members will be on the lookout for crime.
A neighborhood watch t-shirt and pin were unveiled at the meeting.
"You have the right idea, and you are headed in the right direction," Canton Police Chief Doug Seeley told Elmstrom at the meeting.
Elmstrom provided information about some requirements for members. He said members must be at least 24 years old, and have a good character.
"Do not lie," he said. "You've got to be straightforward and honest."
Additionally, he said, prospective members must undergo a background check, at their own expense. People who have a felony or misdemeanor for drugs, burglary, or alcohol will not be able to join the neighborhood watch.
While the neighborhood watch is meant for borough residents, Elmstrom said that people from Canton Township are also welcome to join.
Members of the group will work in shifts that start at 6:30 p.m. and end at midnight, seven days a week.
During driving tours, members will put a neighborhood watch banner on the side of their vehicles. Also, the members will wear the neighborhood watch t-shirts and reflective arm bands while on duty so that the community is aware of their presence.
If a member of the group witnesses a crime, they will call 911, Elmstrom said. He said they must be willing to testify in court. They will follow a protocol regarding what to report to 911, and will have to file incident reports.
However, even if someone is not a member of the neighborhood watch, Elmstrom encourages them to call the authorities if they see a crime in progress.
One Canton Borough Council member, Kurt Bastion, offered some words of encouragement, tinged with reality, to Elmstrom regarding his efforts to form the neighborhood watch.
"It's a hard thing to do, Mark, and I applaud you for trying," he said.
A head count showed about 13 people at the meeting, which was an increase in attendance from the first meeting.
Former Canton Mayor John Mosser was one of those attending.
"It's a great thing, if they can get it off the ground," he said, when asked for comment. "We need more participation."
On Friday, Elmstrom said he had three prospective members - Sharon Kelley, Joel Arnold, Jr., and JoAnn Hadden. On Sunday, he said other people have also expressed interest in joining.
The neighborhood watch will meet in the Ecumenical Church Fellowship Hall on North Center Street every two months. The next meeting is 6 p.m. on Friday, April 12. Free refreshments will be provided.
Elmstrom will provide updates about the neighborhood watch at borough council meetings, and keep the public informed with flyers and information in the newspaper.
For more information about the neighborhood watch, call Elmstrom at (570) 673-8580.