The Cottonade community in Cumberland County may be small, but it has many dedicated homeowners -- dedicated enough to staff and operate their own effective community watch program.
The theory behind community watch programs is that if neighbors watch out for each other and notice unusual happenings on their streets, they can do a great deal to reduce crime and enhance safety. In many towns and subdivisions, however, the effort ends with the posting of a sign on a mailbox that proclaims the household's participation in the program. Community watches can find themselves more honored in the breach.
But Cottonade has taken the watch concept and run with it. The community divided itself into four zones, each of which is patroled by residents day and night. When they notice anything suspicious, they notify authorities.
George Bryant, a resident who helps man the watch, said he is on the lookout for groups of people gathering, automobiles with which he's not familiar and other questionable sights.
"The secret is to stay with it, rather than give it up when (crime) seems to abate," Bryant advised.
Sheriff's deputies credit Cottonade with being lower in crime. There is occasional larceny and damage to mailboxes, they say, but violent crime has been significantly reduced.
The watch is seen by residents as improving the quality of life for this community near Fort Bragg. People walk and jog at any hour.
The watch program also sponsors Meet Your Neighbor days, and issues a quarterly newsletter that provides tips on crime prevention
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