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Our view: Cooperation key for police, public

Published: Friday, July 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

It’s a message that bears repeating: When people are willing to call the police, they can keep their neighborhoods free of crime.

Not everyone is willing to cooperate with police, even to pick up the phone to call 911, and research has found that the more people observe a crime, the less likely any one person is to do something about it, what psychologists refer to as the “bystander effect.”

However, when people are willing to contact police to report crimes or even suspicious activity, they can make a difference. A recent example occurred last weekend, when a Sycamore resident saw what they thought was someone burglarizing a car in their neighborhood.

After making a 911 call, police were able to arrest two people suspected of burglarizing four vehicles in the neighborhood.

The onus is not only on residents to communicate with police. In DeKalb, police are making proactive efforts to connect with residents. The police have created a mobile phone app, iWatch DeKalb, that enables people to report suspicious activity or give other tips about possible crimes they observe using a mobile device, or from a desktop computer, which you can do online at http://shawurl.com/nzy.

As the quote from Police Chief Gene Lowery says, “If one person can make a difference, imagine what a whole community can do.”

People who use iWatch also can remain anonymous. The app is available free at the App Store for Apple and the Play Store for Android.

DeKalb police also are taking a more personal approach. The city’s resident officer program has placed Officer Jared Burke in a refurbished home on north 11th Street in DeKalb, where Burke is working to help improve community relations by forging personal connections with his new neighbors.

The city spent about $135,000 in tax increment financing funds to buy the house and renovate it from a duplex to a single-family house.

Community policing strategies and neighborhood watch programs are nothing new. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t remain effective.

It is within residents’ power to keep their neighborhoods safe if they are willing to work with the police officers whose job it is to enforce the law and protect the public.

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