MONTE VISTA— The Monte Vista Neighborhood Watch Program hosted a meeting to reorganize its board, welcome new participants and hear from the Monte Vista chief of police on Monday, Jan. 22. The meeting was held at the Monte Vista Information Center and was filled with supportive and interested members of the community.
Gary Johnson, who has served as the president of the board for the last several years, opened the meeting and explained the purpose and vision of neighborhood watch. “It’s about making a safer place, a friendlier place and a more conducive place for other people to come in. There’s a lot that goes along with what neighborhood watch represents. We are simply a group of citizens that care about the community, and we work in partnership with the police department to be the eyes and ears that they don’t have. There’s way more citizens in the community than there are officers. We have a great police force and some great officers,” said Johnson.
Johnson said that there is no magic formula that makes neighborhood watch work but that it makes a difference to simply have a known presence. This is accomplished through signs, reporting suspicious activity and a police presence patrolling the area. “We keep an eye out for our neighbors. We then report anything that looks suspicious...,” he said. Johnson also reminded people to report anything they think is suspicious even if they feel it may not actually be anything significant. “There will be a lot less crime and less mischief in the community if we report all suspicious activities,” he said.
Monte Vista Chief of Police John Rosecrans was also in attendance and addressed the group of community members. Rosecrans said he is amazed and impressed that the small community nature of Monte Vista makes it possible for officers to be able to find bad guys because they knew who they were, family connections and popular hangouts. He was also pleased with the large presence of community members that attended the meeting and also shared his coffee with a cop had grown from 5 to 25 people in attendance. “If you’re here to represent your neighborhood that’s a big deal...there’s cynics and criticisms about neighborhood watch but the closer you have a neighborhood and the closer you have a community the stronger neighborhood watch is,” he said.
“The number one thing that is effective out of a neighborhood watch program is looking out for each other and reporting suspicious activity,” said Rosecrans. He also shared information about how to improve reporting skills and said that reporting suspicious activity improves with more practice.
Jim Clare then presented his efforts to have a community watch in the rural and country area of Monte Vista. “What happens in town trickles out into the country, what happens in the country ends up in town. That’s why we’re trying to get this rural community watch formed…” said Clare. Clare said the project has been worked on for the last year and is moving forward. “We’re all in this together,” he said. Clare showed some signs that have been posted throughout the rural area and informs anyone that suspicious activity is reported to the Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office.
New board officers
Kathy Lorenz was elected as new board president since Gary Johnson resigned due to his election to city council. Lorenz shared her vision of having a “diamond” type approach to neighborhood watch. Her idea stems from memories of Monte Vista being the jewel of the San Luis Valley and she shared a diamond she had cut out with her neighbors’ numbers to help look out for each other. She said that by looking out for one another and standing up to suspicious and criminal behavior Monte Vista can once again be the diamond of the Valley.