It's not unusual for some neighborhoods not to have neighborhood watch programs, but an entire city? That was the case in one city, up until a few years ago.
According to the neighborhood watch coordinator, his city hadn't had active watch program for years; that all changed about three years ago.
Now, his Neighborhood Watch efforts have spread beyond his fair city's limits.
Bob Hess is an Air Force Veteran, cancer survivor and retired pastor who loves to sing the praises of Buchanan and its police department.
Buchanan Neighborhood Watch Coordinator Bob Hess says, “Our Buchanan Police Department is fantastic. I mean, we no sooner give them a call, they're on the spot. They're checking it out. They're really supportive of this program.”
The program Hess is talking about is the Buchanan Neighborhood Watch Program that celebrates its third anniversary this week.
Hess started the program after some out of town scammers showed up at his door while his wife was home alone, and he was out walking his dog, ironically, named bandit.
Hess explains how the scammers came to his house, “By the time I got here, they were gone but they insisted they go inside and show her how to use this cleaning product.”
They never got in the door, Hess says, but from that day forward he made up his mind to help clean up any criminal activity that came to Buchanan.
Hess explains how he got the idea to make a difference. ”We hear so often about this type of a situation that does turn to be a violent situation and I figured if we had something going on where we could report things like this that other people would have an idea that this is going on in the neighborhood, that this might help solve the problem.”
It began with a call to the Police Department, then some flyers he gave to his neighbors, followed by their first Neighborhood Watch meeting.
Hess describes the first meeting. “We had about a dozen people or so people, twenty at the most.”
These days, Hess is able to reach a lot more residents by his computer. “Our mailing list has gone from about 12 people up to, right now, we're right around sixty. That doesn't include the number of people we have involved in the Facebook, because Facebook has monstered on us.”
Hess operates the Buchanan Neighborhood Watch Facebook page which, he says, has spread the "good word" about staying safe beyond the Buchanan city limits. “It's Niles, it's Niles Township, it's Galien and Bertrand Township. We communicate back and forth. We even have people in St. Joseph.
Whether it's on Facebook or his list serve, Hess updates residents daily in and around Buchanan about criminal activity. “Chief Marx, just prior to you arriving here, sent me information about some things that were going on in Buchanan that, as far as I know right know right now are unresolved, so we put that information out.”
Hess says getting the word out has made Buchanan a safer place to live. “It has really helped in that respect by getting out as much information as possible so that people are informed. Now that both the Berrien County Sheriff's Department and the City Police Department are giving us information, now the people realize, there's more of a reason for vigilance.
The Buchanan Neighborhood Watch will be having its quarterly meeting this Saturday, May 12. People interested in joining Neighborhood Watch and current members are invited to the meeting at 9 a.m., at The Buchanan Christian Church basement on 3rd and Moccasin Streets.