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Local law enforcement depend heavily on neighborhood watch progr - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Local law enforcement depend heavily on neighborhood watch programs

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BOSSIER PARISH, La. -

The trial of George Zimmerman and his role in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin have gripped the nation for more than a year, and have also raised the question - what role do ordinary citizens play in community policing?

"We want folks who are a part of neighborhood watch program to be the extra eyes and ears of their neighborhood," says Bossier Sheriff's Lt. Bill Davis.

Launched by the National Sheriff's Association 41 years ago, neighborhood watch programs depend heavily on the trust between residents and local law enforcement.

"That relationship is built so that if something does happen, you're able to get in touch with law enforcement and work as a team," Davis says.

Bossier Sheriff's crime prevention officers meet regularly with area groups to discuss concerns and keep residents on the right track to preventing crime in their area.

"It helps you get to care about different people in your neighborhood and gives you a spirit of belonging, a spirit of unity."

Davis says crime feeds on communities that are isolated and that have few bonds forged among neighbors.

"They go to work, they come home, they go to their houses and often times they rarely get to know their neighbors."

Davis says the bottom line is that neighborhood watch is about communication, and sending the message that crime, no matter how small, won't be tolerated.

The Bossier Sheriff's Department also operates a posse auxiliary, a group of 270 volunteers of men over age 50, who are in uniform and ride in patrol units.

Though posse members perform no direct enforcement duties, they provide additional eyes and ears, and their visibility in marked patrol units helps prevent crime.

Bossier City Police and Shreveport Police Departments operate their own volunteer police auxiliary units, as well.

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