ALBANY — The city of Albany and Dougherty County recognized the many neighborhood watch associations within the Albany community at a special event on Wednesday at the Albany Police Department Law Enforcement Center.
Neighborhood watch programs are meant to help deter crime in neighborhoods by “keeping an eye out” and being a “nosy neighbor” — which could also be called being a good steward of neighborhood safety and proactivity by reporting suspicious people and crimes within the community.
Neighborhood watch groups also upkeep their communities by removing litter, and bringing people together for gatherings, cookouts and religious fellowship.
Among the officials to show their support for neighborhood watch groups was Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful Executive Director Judy Bowles.
Bowles commended the neighborhood watch members of Albany for “looking out for each other” the way their parents and grandparents did.
“I want to commend each of you neighborhood watch participants,” she said. “I want to thank you for what you do. You stepped up and have taken a leadership position to make your community cleaner, greener and safer.”
Several elected officials were in attendance, specifically from the Albany City Commission and Dougherty County Commission.
“Thank you for not today, but the many years of neighborhood watch. We’re just glad that we can honor you, and I salute you all,” Dougherty County District 6 Commissioner Anthony Jones said.
Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas presented a proclamation to the groups’ representatives and thanked the neighborhood watch groups for their service to their neighborhoods and the community.
“A big, big thank you for all that you do for the community and for all the citizens in Albany and Dougherty County,” Dougherty County District 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines said.
Albany Ward III Commissioner B.J. Fletcher expressed to the neighborhood watch groups her appreciation for their help in improving the community.
“I’m from the era where one of our sayings was ‘I’ve got your back’, and when I see y’all here, I really feel like you have our back,” she said. “I want you all to know that we have yours.”
Jon Howard, the city commissioner representing Ward 1, expressed a similar sentiment.
“You are all concerned about the neighborhood, the city and other parts of the county too,” Howard said. “We certainly hope that you will continue to be involved because you all can rest assured that you are the eyes and ears of this community.”
Hubbard expressed her gratitude towards the neighborhood watch groups for the work the members have done within the community. She thanked the watch groups for their willingness to look out for their neighbors. She told the groups that “we are all in this together.”
“My mom used to call these kind of people ‘nosy neighbors,’ and I believe that when you go back, I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with you being a nosy neighbor, with you peeping out your window to see what’s going on in your neighborhood and reporting it to the police,” Hubbard said.
The mayor also thanked the watch groups for taking care of their communities by keeping their neighborhoods clean.
Cohilas, who is also an attorney, added that neighborhood watches are the backbone of the community. He credited neighborhood watch groups for assistance in solving crimes as well as crime prevention.
“I tell juries all the time, if you watch the nature channel, the animals that get (hurt) aren’t the ones that are well guarded,” Cohilas said.
He promoted communication within the community for neighborhood safety as a method of crime prevention. Cohilas said that predators, criminals and thieves pay attention to which neighborhoods are guarded by their communities compared to the ones that are not.
“Nosy neighbors keep communities safe,” Cohilas said.