Utahns from across the state attended one of 28 local follow-up meetings to the Governor's Conference for Community Leaders Saturday morning to talk about specific ways to make their neighborhoods safer.
Conferencegoers watched the 90-minute statewide telecast hosted by Gov. Mike Leavitt first and then spent another 90 minutes talking about what can be done in their areas to reduce crime.The Davis County "Safe Neighborhoods" conference was at Northridge High School and was attended by about 200 area leaders and interested residents.
"One of the biggest complaints I hear is: `I want to help, but I just don't know what to do,' " said Kaye Groll of Farmington, the chairman of the Davis County Conference. She said a major purpose of the follow-up local conferences is to help initiate an action plan.
"There's crime in every neighborhood, but people don't know what's available to help," Groll said.
A major portion of the Davis County Conference was spent explaining how to start mobile volunteer watches in neighborhoods.
Darrel Parke and Brade Drake from Layton's Oak Forest neighborhood said their citizen watch program has been successful.
"We watch out for one another," Drake said. "It's curtailed (crime) activity."
The most important thing residents can do is develop an awareness of what's going on in the community, the two men said. Their watch program also includes block parties and has drawn neighbors closer.
Tom Rich of Farmington also helped develop a mobile watch in his neighborhood. He admits the actual watches can be pretty boring, but they had created a wonderful interaction with the police.
In fact, while Farmington may have just one officer patrolling the entire city overnight, two or three volunteers driving around the city have tripled the eyes and ears of law enforcement there.
Jim Mason, Layton assistant manager, explained the basics of the "CERT," the area's emergency management response plan.
Gang awareness, as well as youth courts were also briefly addressed at the conference.
Groll said conference participants now know who the experts are in their area for various neighborhood programs.
- Davis County also has a confidential helpline - 497-9111 - operated by the United Way.