STAUNTON -- A total of 15 people paid a visit to the Staunton Community Center to learn more about Neighborhood Watches.
Clay County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Rob Gambill headed up the meeting. In recent months, Gambill -- who lives in Staunton -- has approached the Staunton Town Council with an interest in spearheading the project.
"Neighborhood watches have been around as a program for years and years and years," Gambill told those at Thursday's meeting. "We're all facing the same things. We all have some of the same concerns."
After providing a brief introduction, Gambill asked residents what their major concerns were regarding town safety. They included:
* Safety and security of one's home,
* Children being out past curfew, and
* Trash dumping along town streets.
Gambill then stressed the Clay County Sheriff's Department only has 12 deputies, making neighborhood watch programs even more important.
"That's why we want citizens' help," Gambill said. "We do the best we can."
Gambill then provided a presentation to the residents.
Neighborhood watches exist through a National Sheriff's Association and the United States Department of Justice,Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice partnership.
According to Gambill, neighborhood watches promote unity within a community while also making neighborhoods safer, as well as improving the quality of life within communities and working one-on-one with law enforcement officials.
Essentially, Gambill said residents involved in the program are simply asked to notify each other of concerns. The concerns are then forwarded to a block captain who then contacts authorities.
Residents are not asked to investigate situations or make arrests.
"This is a volunteer driven program," Gambill said. "New members need to be brought in so it doesn't die on the vine."
Gambill stressed training is key to the program and he volunteered time to train residents regarding what to look for in specific situations.
In addition, he stated there would be meetings from time to time, which would serve as seminars on several different items, including making one's home safer.
"This is a step program," he said. "If you don't do it properly, it's just not going to work."
Following the presentation, Gambill asked the residents if they were interested in pursuing the program.
All agreed they were interested in making an attempt to move forward and stated more meetings would be essential.
Since discussing the program with the Staunton Town Council and beginning the process of promoting it, Gambill said other Clay County communities have expressed interest in Neighborhood Watch programs as well.