The recent National Night Out and associated block parties gave residents an opportunity to meet and greet not only Heights police personnel, but neighbors as well. Hopefully these new ties will continue to grow and flourish.

These activities give residents closer ties to one another, giving them a reason to watch out for each other’s welfare.

Criminals don’t stand a chance against an organized and committed association of neighbors, whose eyes and ears are an extension of the long arm of the law.

I’m referring, of course, to neighborhood watch programs.

For almost 40 years, National Neighborhood Watch programs have benefited from grants given by the Department of Justice for establishing initiatives to assist local law enforcement and residents in a crime prevention effort.

The National Neighborhood Watch is a division of The National Sheriff’s Association, with the goal to provide multiple resources to sheriffs and police around the country for crime prevention initiatives.

Folks who live in areas of Harker Heights and Nolanville without a neighborhood watch program should seriously consider establishing one. Neighborhood watch programs with involved residents make a difference in the prevention of crime and the identification and apprehension of offenders.

Case in point is the identification and arrest of the Harker Heights man who was seen by residents on Oct. 9 exposing himself while cycling in Purser Park in the 100 block of Mountain Lion Road.

Because of the witness/victim identification of observant Heights residents, police were able to identify and arrest Avery Kordell Carter, 17, of Harker Heights, on the charge of indecent exposure.

According to an arrest affidavit, an officer confronted Carter as he left the park, stopping him on his bicycle on Modoc behind Union Grove Middle School. The affidavit stated Carter denied ever being in the park.

Police allowed at least one victim to see the detained man, and officers said the victim positively identified Carter as the suspect at the park.

Carter was arraigned Oct. 9 by Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke, who set Carter’s bond at $5,000 for the Class B misdemeanor.

Numerous examples of observant and involved neighbors assisting the police in crime prevention have surfaced in recent months in Harker Heights.

This kind of citizen involvement and cooperation with the police can do nothing but make Harker Heights a better place to live.

Formal watch programs will greatly enhance the already splendid efforts of Harker Heights residents.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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