STAUNTON -- According to Clay County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Rob Gambill, the Staunton Neighborhood Watch program is moving at a pace he expected.
Gambill recently told The Brazil Times the group has had three different classes at this point, with a fourth planned Monday at 6:30 p.m., at the Staunton Community Center.
Gambill said the first three classes focused on identifying suspicious behavior, reporting behaviors and creating ways to make homes safer against burglary or home invasion.
He said Monday's class will focus on identity theft.
Gambill said the program was initially meeting on Sundays, but changed the day due to lack of attendance.
"It has fluctuated," Gambill said regarding attendance, adding the class average so far has been approximately 10 residents.
"The last meeting, we had three or four new people," he added.
Gambill said the group has discussed possibly having an entry in the annual Christmas In The Park Parade, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 25.
"Things have been going real well," he said. "I think the people are starting to use the skills they have learned in the classes. They are actively watching (their neighborhoods)."
Currently, the neighborhood watch block captain is Cindy Grove.
Even though the program is moving forward and residents are learning through the classes, Gambill said citizen patrols -- something many neighborhood watch programs conduct -- may not take place in Staunton.
"That may not happen," Gambill said. "They're still trying to get their core group set up."
According to Gambill, neighborhood watch programs exist through a National Sheriff's Association and the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Association, Office of Justice partnership.
Gambill said 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.
Since the Staunton group began, Gambill said he's had other county towns express interest in watch groups.
"I've actually received contact from Lewis Township," he said. "I think (neighborhood watches) are pretty important because (the sheriff's department has) limited man-power. These people in their communities will be witnesses to crimes."