Greenbelt Officer Shares Crime Prevention Tips
Officer Kelly Lawson advised Greenbelters on how to reduce crime.
Officer Kelly Lawson wants to educate Greenbelt residents on how to increase personal safety and awareness. She shared some tips at Greenbelt Home, Inc.'s (GHI) last board of directors meeting and also emailed Patch three ideas on Monday to share with all Greenbelters.
Three Safety Tips for Every Greenbelt Resident
- Lock car doors and windows and remove valuables when your car is parked.
- Lock house doors and windows when you are away, and keep doors locked when you are at home.
- Be aware of your surroundings when walking, rather than focusing on your cellphone or iPod.
At GHI's board meeting, GHI General Manager Eldon Ralph discussed an incident at the GHI-owned Parkway Apartments, in which unauthorized persons entered the apartments and accosted a resident at the end of December.
In response to tenant concerns, GHI wrote a letter on Jan. 30 urging tenants to be “vigilant” and provided additional precautionary measures to keep them safe. The measures included changing apartment door locks at residents’ requests, replacing outside lighting that was not working, and ensuring that the main entry door closes and latches more rapidly.
Lawson, who is Public Information/Crime Prevention officer for the Greenbelt Police Department, attended the meeting as part of her goal to visit all of Greenbelt’s homeowners’ and neighborhood associations and educate residents on how to increase personal safety and awareness.
Lawson said that any Greenbelt resident could arrange for a free home security survey by emailing her. During the visit, she said she would discuss ways of making a home safer from a crime prevention perspective, considering issues such as lighting, alarms, shrub height and locks.
Addressing the advantages of GHI residents, Lawson said, “Your neighbors can easily see/hear someone breaking in your home." GHI was not the only neighborhood in town to benefit from this advantage, Lawson added.
GHI has one of the lowest crime rates in the city, according to Lawson, who saw the small yards and closely clustered housing as a contributing factor.
She described GHI as a “close-knit community” in which the residents have a vested interest. GHI benefits from a crime prevention perspective, Lawson said, because people know each other and “look out for each other.”
“Crime prevention is built into GHI,” Board Member David Morse said, citing examples such as the mutual ownership contract that each member signs and the member complaint panel, as measures that allow for the orderly resolution of disputes and keep disagreements from escalating.
Lawson recognized Old Greenbelt's longstanding Neighborhood Watch program at the meeting, a program for which she does trainings. GHI Board Member and Secretary Ed James, one of the founders of the Old Greenbelt Neighborhood Watch program, told Patch in an email on Monday that the watch acts as the eyes and ears for the city and the police.
Not only do watch volunteers report suspicious activity, they look for safety hazards like burst water mains, downed trees or electrical wires, and abandoned cars, James added.
James sees the Neighborhood Watch programs, which exist in other parts of Greenbelt as well, as a positive development for the community.
“I prefer to take action, make progress, and build community involvement and networking,” James stated.