BAYONNE, NJ - With Election Day just weeks away Paul Hagdorn, one of four candidates vying for the First Ward Council seat, used the opening his campaign headquarters to officially propose the idea of creating a neighborhood watch program.
While establishing a neighborhood watch has already been listed by the candidate as one of his campaign promises, Hagdorn said at the gathering that he plans to move ahead with it whether he wins the election or not.
“I was asked if this would be for the First Ward only or the whole town'” Hagdorn said. “I think this is needed town-wide. And win or lose this upcoming election, I intend to continue with this.”
“This is not about being a vigilante, it's about community and sharing information,” he said, comparing it to National Night Out Against Crime. “Only instead of doing it only once a year, we hold regular events.”
Hagdorn said he consulted a national manual for organizing local neighborhood watches in order to develop a program that might be suited for Bayonne. His research, he said, helped him create a simple handout that he gave his guests.
“I wanted to keep it simple and not overwhelm people with too much information,” he said, adding that members of the Bayonne Police Department have been very helpful in the effort.
“They've been receptive and asked us to let us know how they can help,” Hagdorn said.
This will likely include having police appear at future meetings to address resident concerns and to provide training.
Calling in to the meeting was Bayonne police officer Mike Elia who is well regarded for his role in supporting community policing and special needs programs in Bayonne. Though not offering an endorsement of the initiative Elia indicated that he is willing to play a role in the program’s development.
Crime varies in different parts of Bayonne, some of those who attended said. The shopping district has its share of shoplifters and other related crimes while the 8th Street Station for the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line has brought a number of problems to the First Ward, such as panhandlers and homeless, others offered.
Local resident Frank D’Amato reiterated this point referring to a recent uptown robbery in which the suspect fled back to the light rail station while Lisa Strydio said she hopes the group can provide needed information about what to do and who to call when they encounter issues or see something else that doesn’t feel right in the neighborhood.
If successful, the organization might seek non-profit status.
Hagdorn has already started a Facebook page and intends to use other social media outlets as well.
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