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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Recent rise in crime prompts call for neighborhood watch effort

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The last time Police Chief Tom Sutherlin spoke candidly in front of the Greencastle City Council, he became the harbinger of doom.

At the August Council meeting, Chief Sutherlin talked about how local police calls were up considerably, calling it the product of "hard times" and warning city officials that Greencastle may not be immune to the type of crimes seen elsewhere in alarming fashion.

"The things that people are seeing in society could pretty well happen here," Sutherlin said a month ago.

Three weeks later the chief was immersed in a homicide investigation and fielding questions about the death of an 85-year-old widow who was shot to death in her own home.

A week after that, he was releasing information about home burglaries that occurred while residents slept or were elsewhere in their own homes.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday night, Councilor Phyllis Rokicki asked Sutherlin to update the group on the recent rash of incidents that have put Greencastle residents on edge.

Sutherlin declined to reveal specifics of any investigation.

"I will not share any facts," he said from the start before noting his department's two detectives have worked 75-100 hours alone on the cases in question.

"I would encourage our community to lock your doors, lock your windows, lock your cars," he advised.

The chief called the fact that such a heinous crime could occur in broad daylight in the middle of Greencastle "very surreal."

Like most residents, Chief Sutherlin has been accustomed to Greencastle being a safe community, one certainly void of serious crime.

"I live in this community," he said. "I've raised my family in this community.

"We still have crime in Greencastle," he said. "This certainly doesn't happen very often, not as often as in Indianapolis or Terre Haute."

The rise in serious crime is not just a reminder of the times in which we live but also a reminder that we all need to look out for each other, he said.

"If people are concerned about their safety," Chief Sutherlin said, "this is the time for neighborhoods to come together."

He suggested targeting smaller areas for watch groups than the typical boundaries of city wards.

"We're talking about something as small as Ottawa Park or Woods Edge," he said, urging residents to put someone in charge of watching out for neighbors' property and checking regularly on the elderly or shut-ins in their midst.

Neighborhood watch programs will be discussed at upcoming city meetings, he pointed out.

"The community is our eyes," Sutherlin stressed. "We carry the gun and the badge but they're the eyes and ears for us."

He also suggested that residents who observe something unusual should take note of it and let authorities know. If an unusual vehicle seems to be lingering in your neighborhood or if you observe a person out of character for the community, calling police is a good idea.

"We need to prepare ourselves," Sutherlin added. "The unfortunate thing is that Greencastle is finding out we're not immune to what we see happening in other communities."

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I travel extensively and keep several out of state addresses. I have seen this same story in newspapers all over the country. Sometimes, the spokesperson is a member of law enforcement, sometimes, a politician. The stories always warn homeowners of the impending crimewave, give advice about calling police for every little problem but the one thing these stories never, ever speak of is how the community is addressing the core problem, lack of jobs... so I'm guessing this is the way our elected leaders want it to be.

-- Posted by westforty on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 1:45 AM

Good job umad!!

-- Posted by Blue6 on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 7:41 AM

I actually think that we as tax payers need to step up and support our local police instead of blaming them for not being able to "see" everything. They put their lives on the line every time they put on their uniform and get in their car. They cannot be every where. Even if we had 3 times as many officers on duty at a time as we do now, they can't be in every part of town at every moment.

@UMad, why are you blaming the police for not seeing this man on your property when your neighbors noticed and didn't call? I was recently traveling and heard this announcement in the airport: "If you see something, say something."

Community safety is everyone's responsibility.

-- Posted by workingmomma on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 8:33 AM

I applaud GPD for finally announcing what most of us have known for some time.This isn't Mayberry. This community has a lower overall crime rate than larger cities but the 'scaled for comparison' numbers are probably rather close. And it's not contained to one section or another as the recently published events show. The entire community is at risk and needs to be alert.

As workingmomma said, the TSA pushes the motto ~See Something, Say Something~, and they do it because it works. I was greatly disappointed when the police non-emergency line was changed to go directly to 911 dispatch. I know a couple of people who no longer call to report things because they fear the fines involved in a 'false 911 call' if the police are unable to locate the suspicious person or vehicle. Perhaps more people would report things if this were reversed back to simply a 'dispatch access line'?

-- Posted by miraclemom3 on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 8:59 AM

How about giving the public a "Tip Line" to report suspicious activity?

-- Posted by localman on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 9:01 AM

you have one fool....911

-- Posted by hardtobelieve on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 10:25 AM

Man, you people can get vicious on here! Why not coment in a civil way to each other instead of bashing each other. I wouldn't want some of you to be around me talking like you coment, I would find you suspicous and at the least not include you in any neighborhood group to protect me!

-- Posted by chicken on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 11:06 AM

I walk through my neighborhood almost everyday and at some point I always see an officer driving through! I agree with the chief! We are their eyes and ears! If you see something suspicious, report it rather than just watch it happen!

-- Posted by northputnamcougars! on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 12:17 PM

You can still call the non-emergency lines without it being a "911" call. Do not be afraid to call - they would rather have a "nothing found" incident than a real incident that wasn't reported.

-- Posted by VolunteerFF on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 12:17 PM

you see a increase on crime. i really think alot has to do with being out of work. i would want our neighbors to call if something was goin on. id much rather call than not. people breaking into homes while homeowners are there is a sign of desperation. if confronted who knows what would happen.

-- Posted by pukee on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 3:17 PM

The 911 dispatch is the same as the non emergent police dispatch. It's the same building, same call takers and same phone, just a different line. Call 911 if it is an emergency, call the other numbers to report anything else.

-- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 4:41 PM

If you are calling dispatch (or 911 if you don't know any other number to call), simply tell them when they answer that you have a non-emergency call or question. This will tell them right away that if they have more pressing issues, they can handle those first, then come back to your call. Dispatchers that I have talked to appreciate it.

-- Posted by Clovertucky on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 11:02 AM

What is the non emergancy #?

-- Posted by bam on Tue, Sep 20, 2011, at 9:05 AM

@workingmomma: We ALL put our lives on the line when we step out our front door every day and actually by just living considering recent events. The police are paid to protect(also serve but that isn't happening either)us, so there is no making excuses for them.

If they don't like the money they are being paid by taxpayers then find a new line of work. Last I checked there was no draft on police officers...

-- Posted by GPDHazIssues on Wed, Sep 21, 2011, at 4:54 AM

I am worried that if we increase patrol size, then I will have to find a safer location to smoke marijuana

-- Posted by corn-o-matic on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 9:37 AM

@bam, the dispatch number is 653-5115, but it rings through to the same dispatchers as 911.

-- Posted by Clovertucky on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 12:36 PM

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