Being married means being partners in a lot of different ways. For one Mishawaka couple, it also means being partners against crime.
Rich and Carole Mullins may not be police officers, but they have worked with the police for many years to fight crime in their neck of the woods.
The married couple started the neighborhood watch program in the Twin Branch area two decades ago, and they remain the neighborhood watch coordinators for that neighborhood.
This is a dynamic duo that works with police and neighbors to keep the area safe.
Rich and Carole have lived in Mishawaka’s Twin Brand neighborhood for nearly 38 years. Like many members of neighborhood watch, the Mullins got involved because they were personally affected by crime.
Rich explains how he and his wife first got involved in the program.
“Neighbors pull up and say ‘what's going on? What were the police out here for?’ I say ‘my motor home was broken into.’ And they said ‘oh, geez.’ Someone around the corner was broken into and then another person stopped by and somebody over here was broken into. So, that's what started the neighborhood watch. We were just really dumbfounded at all the burglaries that were going on in our neighborhood.”
This all happened 20 years ago.
The beginning of the Twin Branch neighborhood watch was simple but impressive. The Mullins started passing out flyers and held a meeting.
More than 300 people showed up for the very first neighborhood watch meeting all those years ago. Now there are monthly meetings of the Twin Branch neighborhood watch. Not a lot of people show up, but the Mullins say that's not necessarily a bad thing because it means there are not a whole lot of problems occurring in the neighborhood.
“People now talk to each other a little more. It did kind of get people to communicate more and we do watch out for each other. We have longevity and people vested in a community. It works,” says Carole.
The Mullins and other Twin Branch residents get alerts from Mishawaka police about potential crime in their neighborhood through the Nixel system that's tied to the Mishawaka police department website.
For folks not on the internet, there is word of mouth, phone calls and, of course, those monthly meetings.
Rich says, “It's just been a good thing. We ask people to turn on their porch lights and report things. That's the main idea right there is report things to the police department when something doesn't look right.”
The Mullins encourage any interested Twin Branch resident to get involved in neighborhood watch. Just attend any of the monthly meetings at Twin Branch Elementary.