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Communities Brace to Repel Intruders : City Seeks Funds for Academy to Train Citizen Crime Stoppers

Times Staff Writer

The city of San Diego is seeking a state grant to form a Citizen’s Police Academy to train 30 block captains from the Normal Heights area on the fine points of preventing crime in that area, where residential burglaries are above the city average.

“The goal of the project is to increase the number of Neighborhood Watch groups in San Diego,” San Diego Police Department spokesman Lt. Lou Scanlon said. “The aim would be to establish one Neighborhood Watch per block in the target area (Normal Heights) and see if this will in fact reduce . . . the overall crime rate in the neighborhood.”

There are 62 Neighborhood Watch programs in the Normal Heights area, which has a population of 37,000, and 4,300 Neighborhood Watch programs citywide, Scanlon said.

To implement the $33,000 program, the Police Department is counting on a state grant of $29,708.08 from the Office of Criminal Justice Planning. The remaining money will come from the city budget, Scanlon said. Council members on Monday voted to seek the funds and approved spending their share for the academy.

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12-Week Training Course in Crime Prevention

If money is obtained for the proposed citizen academy, block captains will attend the San Diego Police Academy for a 12-week, 6-hour-a-day training regimen, where they will learn crime prevention techniques. The block captains, however, will not be deputized or carry guns after the training.

“The project will train volunteers in police practices and policies, and crime prevention techniques with the hope that the people will recruit, train and maintain their Neighborhood Watch programs, thereby increasing their numbers,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon said Normal Heights, with its single-family homes and apartment buildings, is the ideal location for the experimental project because it is in the center of San Diego and it has high crime and burglary rates. It also constitutes one police patrol beat, which makes it easier to analyze crime statistics to see if the citizens program is effective.

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According to 1987 burglary statistics, residential burglaries in the Normal Heights area were 24.73 per thousand people, contrasted with 12.8 per thousand citywide. The overall crime statistics were 124.42 per thousand people, more than the city’s 86.29 per thousand average.


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