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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Great Northwest Watch Report: My Notes...

Most of you won't give a hoot about any of this, but since I use this blog to tell you about the place I live, mi barrio as they say, hopefully some neighbors will find the information, uh, informative.

My wife and I joined a handful of residents at a meeting of the Great Northwest Watch Wednesday evening – the first one for 2008. We had an informative meeting and I’d like to take a minute to tell you about it.
The meeting did get off to a late start because the Lodge was being used as a place to take pictures of various sports teams, but it wasn’t a real issue. Chief Burton of GNW Security had arranged for two of our SAFFE officers, Officers Atkinson and Struxness, to provide the group with some home security tips and a way for homeowners to get a 5 percent discount on insurance. They offer a free service where they will come out to your house, do a thorough inspection of the place, then send a form into the state insurance board. Regardless of your insurance company, if you meet the requirements, state law mandates that you get the 5%. They offered up a handful of tips about different easy and inexpensive ways of securing your doors and the difference between what works and what doesn’t work. As they pointed out – they can't guarantee that nobody will try to burglarize your house, but you can make your house a less attractive target with easy and inexpensive methods, and simply send the crooks on to your neighbor’s house to do the stealing. Gee, I hope your neighbor has some insurance!

They also gave out a few interesting tidbits - did you know that not all burglars are male? Yep, the percentage of female criminals is rising fast. Your burglar will not always be dressed in black or look like that character from the McDonald's commercials. They are going to try to blend in to the surroundings. But the stats show that they still tend to be young, and they tend to be nervous. So if some young nervous girl is hanging out by the side of your house, it may not be because she is waiting for your son to get home, she could be there to rip you off.

One other thing that I have mentioned here before, and that has to do with the City of San Antonio and our SAPD. We have a force of about 2,000 officers (with 400-600 eligible to retire this month), to cover our entire city. The city of Philadelphia which is roughly the same population as San Antonio has 6,000 officers. Last year, our city fielded over 1 million 9-11 calls. If you dial 9-1-1 to have a police officer come figure out who knocked over your garbage can, what are the chances they are going to get to you anytime this week?

Sadly, the same thing is true for my pet peeve, graffiti. Please do not dial 9-1-1 to report graffiti. Call the non-emergency number 207-SAPD (7273) or 207-7484 and report it there. If you are giving a description of a suspect, describe the person from either head to toe, or toe to head. Men: they do not need to know how large Jennifer Broome's breasts have suddenly become. Give them something they can work with while they are looking for the scoundrels. And do me a favor, if you see them, take a picture of them
(the graffiti artists) in the act. That might help.

Before the officers skedaddled off, they also mentioned something you might want to do. Get your camera and make a video of all the contents in your house, and do up an inventory of everything and take it to another location. This way, if you get ripped off, you have a list for the insurance company with pictures. Also, do a back-up of your computer. They mentioned people who had laptops stolen and had huge business set-backs because all of their contact information, calendars and work was on the laptop. Good advice.
Up next, Mr. Mike Yager from the GNW A-Team gave a few quick words on how he is trying to revamp the group of area volunteers. His comments were well received and my wife and I even piped up to give testimonials of what a great time we had working with a group a few weeks ago.

Mike hit on one area that I’d like to mention and that is that some people may have a firmer line of what they consider helping out the community and doing personal services for people who should be paying for it. For example I think we can all agree that a group of people volunteering to help clean-up a community park is an effort that the community as a whole benefits from and whether or not you have kids who play in that park, it is still for the betterment of the community. Mike and a few others (myself included), can see trying to help an older couple, disabled person, or perhaps a young mother who has a spouse deployed with lots of little kids around the house who might need assistance with some yard work or something. Some people feel that this crosses the line because suddenly, now one person is upset that volunteers mowed his neighbor's yard, but not his.

My view is, first and foremost, this is a volunteer effort. If you don;t want to support a particular project, simply don't. Nobody is going to hold it against you. Mike has taken it a step further (hence, the reason he is in charge). He says that tough evaluations and decisions will have to be made, and some people may be unhappy that the A-Team could not support their need. But we can't allow that disappointment to halt the good that the group can do as a whole.

So, if you think you have even an hour to give only one time, not even on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, but just one time, please contact Mike. You can get a form for the A-Team and Mike's contact info from the February Passages (online now).

Okay, following the A-Team discussion, it was my big debut as the new coordinator for the watch. I'm happy to report that I did not faint from nervousness, though my wife says that I constantly clicked my pen. Perhaps next time, I take one of those little squeeze balls.

I wanted to ask my fellow watch captains (it sounds almost Tony Soprano-like) how they felt about a few things about how the format of the meetings go and just stuff that was administrative in nature. One thing for sure was that everyone agreed we should make the meetings as quick as possible - they start at 7:30PM, and we should definitely be done and on our way home by 9PM. And, the assembled crowd agreed that we should only have guest speakers if they were on topic. If not, why bring someone in just for the sake of speaking?

If you are reading this and you live in the GNW and you are, or you want to be, a block captain, please get in touch with me via e-mail by clicking here. I will try to contact the folks I have contact info for. Also, you don't have to be a block captain to attend the meetings. The next one is Wednesday, February 27 2008 and we will have a speaker from the San Antonio Parks Department to talk about - what else - Oscar Perez Memorial Park.


Anon E. Mouse said...

I liked the free cookies!

Anonymous said...

Oscar Perez must not be well liked because his park is graffiti more as of today 2-2-08 . Poor man. I mean park. This makes me angry. While ya'll were painting the tennis courts they painted the ramps.

Dave said...

Yep. It pretty much happens that way.

And as we put a fresh coat of green paint over the tennis backboards, we joked that we should keep it handy as it should make a pretty nice canvas for the little bastards to tag tonight.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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