Metro's Neighborhood Watch Program will not be continued once Metro runs out of its current stash of "Join Hands With the Badge" signs that go up in some neighborhoods notifying all of the presence of a neighborhood watch. Salemtown Neighbors is one of the last watch groups to receive these signs.
Last week I went down to the Metro Parts Department in southeast Downtown to pick up the signs that Streets and Roads will put up around Salemtown. I first learned there from a Metro employee that the last signs are going and, once they are gone, the program will be discontinued.
I confirmed the news on Friday with the Metro Police Central Precinct Community Affairs Officer, who told me that the crime prevention section had been disbanded, and that the personnel was put on patrol as a result of Mayor Purcell's directive for every department to reduce their budget.
I have mixed feelings about this. I am relieved that Salemtown has received signs to help discourage criminal activity, but I feel sorry for other neighborhood watches just starting or yet to be started who were hoping to publicize their vigilance and willingness to contact the police at the first sign of shady or suspicious activity.
There is no perfect crime prevention solution that totally inoculates a neighborhood. However, I am a firm believer that these signs make drug dealers, burglars, and hoodlums think twice before hitting neighborhoods where they are posted. So, I am glad that ours will be going up soon, unless Streets and Roads discontinues their service of erecting the signs. But I was disappointed to hear that Nashville neighborhoods will be losing a crime fighting resource because we cannot generate enough revenue to insure the general welfare.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's going to cost Metro a lot more to investigate crimes and incarcerate criminals after the fact than to support neighborhoods by putting up crime deterring signs beforehand. And crooks who skip our neighborhood--because they see the signs and conclude that they do not want to risk being seen--may just hit other neighborhoods without signs because they see them as easier marks. Those other neighborhoods now have one less resource to prevent that from happening.