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Pearl River County neighborhood watch meeting

With a new name, the Pearl River County Neighborhood Watch is gearing up to rid its community of crime and drugs.

In a meeting Monday night, watch members discussed how to rally the community to fund and participate in the cause and what can be done to try to increase law enforcement presence.

Last year marked the return of community efforts to reduce illegal activity that has plagued the community in years past. This year there will be a move to gather more community involvement.

“You think we were loud last year, wait till this year,” said PRC Neighborhood Watch member Eugene Craddock.

Ideas to try and keep drug activity and crime to a minimum included increased road blocks, which need to be advertised in the local media. Questions arose about why road blocks need to be advertised. Some think that it would inform people not to drive through that area if they were intent on conducting criminal activity. Picayune Police Chief Jim Luke said at the meeting that federal statute states that law enforcement departments must advertise road blocks but most of the time people don’t read or listen to the local media.

Many members at the meeting wanted to use the help of local residents in the neighborhoods, an idea Luke said he supports.

“… it’s got to be a partnership between the community and law enforcement,” Luke said.

Since the law enforcement departments in the county are short on manpower, they could use additional sets of eyes and ears, Luke said.

“I think citizen involvement is a very important when fighting crime,” Luke said.

PRC Neighborhood Watch member Gayenell Stockstill suggested using signs to let the criminals know they are watching, but Craddock had a different opinion.

“I don’t want to see a sign, I want to see people get up and make a difference,” Craddock said.

By the next meeting Craddock said the organization will have vehicle stickers and shirts printed up for members to show their support. The money raised for the sale of the shirts, possibly at the Picayune Street Fair, will help support the organization’s efforts, he said.

Awareness could be raised with children’s events, said Picayune School Board member Reese Moody. He said such events could serve food and sell soft drinks to raise funds.

The next meeting of the Pearl River County Neighborhood Watch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday Jan. 22 at the Nicholson First Baptist Church.