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A Watchful Eye Over Pine Hills

November 20, 2014

by Jeramaine McLeod

Pine Nills neighborhood watch member Luke A. Rumsey spoke at the Pine Hills neighborhood association meeting on Thursday about how the watch works and how others can get involved in keeping an eye out in the community. The watch, which has been around since 2005, patrols two boxed off areas in and nearby Pine Hills  and make nightly reports to the Albany Police Department and the city of Albany about their findings. These reports include unusual and criminal activities as well as safety conditions in the area. In the event of immediate police need, watch members are required to call 911 or the APD directly. Otherwise, reports are made through email.

Luke A. Rumsey

Luke A. Rumsey

The areas of patrol include the square enclosed by Central, Madison, North Allen, and Lake avenues, as well as the location within Lake and Lexington avenues, Bradford Street and Western Avenue. The watch patrols every street within these two parts of the community. They do not get to each street every single night, but it is an objective of theirs to hit every street during the week.

“I think the fact that the midtown watch is out there, visible and active, can only contribute to making the neighborhood safe,” said Nancy M. Lauricella, executive director for the Office of Community Standards at the University at Albany.

Safety and visibility are the organization’s main goals. To achieve their goals, club members are trained by the APD for safety and given a vest, a flashlight, a flashing arm band, hats note pads, pens and cell phones to assist in being visible to those in need and to be able to quickly report and situations that require assistance.

No information was shared about whether any findings by the watch eventually turn into criminal investigations but those aren’t the only accomplishments of the group. They’ve recently reported that some 20 street posts were unlit; they assisted a student who thought her car was stolen on how to contact the police , and the group reported identifying a structurally unsafe house and a potential domestic dispute.

“Anytime we can get our citizens concerned enough to walk around it strengthens our partnership with them,” said Ptl. Joe Acquaviva of the Albany Police Department.

The watch is seeking more volunteers to complement the current 25 members, which is made up of 75 percent college students. College students are gone from the neighborhood for large parts of the year, so more permanent residents are needed to fill the space as well as create more watch times. Currently, shifts are primarily in the evening and from 4 p.m to 10 p.m., in groups of a minimum of two, for 1-2 hours at a time. The group would like to start watches earlier to help keep students safe leaving school. They only require volunteers commit to work one shift a month. Candidates must fill out an application,  and get a background check and training, before patrolling the streets. More information is available by contacting lrumsey@albany.edu, or Ptl. Janet Zalatan of the Albany PD at 518-458-5668, or by attending the next planning meeting on December 8 at 7 p.m. at Center Station. -30-

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