Gautier neighbors help police fight crime

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Gautier Police said more residents are working together to fight crime. There are now more than a dozen neighborhood watch programs city-wide. City leaders put the program back online last year, after a woman was reportedly assaulted during a home invasion in north Gautier.

Gautier resident Denny Engle said it feels good taking a stroll in his Northwood Hills Subdivision now that crime has been cut in half.

"Yes, it has slowed down," Engle said.

But that wasn't always the case. Engle and Gautier's crime prevention officer Diane Schmid said there were a lot of petty crimes in the area last year.

"Vehicles would be parked like this, and people would come in because of easy access off Gautier-Vancleave Road. They would check them and they would either vandalize or burglarize or just move on down," said Angles about the crime.

Around the same time, a home invasion reportedly took place in another nearby subdivision. So, city leaders started pushing neighborhood watch and Engle signed up his subdivision.

"We have begun dialog with the officers when they come through. We talk about things we see, and we are making our residents more aware of what they are seeing. And what is suspicious activity," said the Engle.

Over on the south-side, at the Belleville Apartment Complex, police said they also jump started a watch program due to the increase in crime.

"Last year, between January and April, I think we had 10 shots fired calls from this area," said Schmid.

I don't know the percentage, but the volumes of calls have decreased and the types of calls.

Gautier resident Elaine Monroe said more eyes watching is slowly producing change.

"A little bit, as far as standing around. Yes, a little bit, but not much," Monroe  said about the decrease in crime.

But, both Schmid and Monroe agree a lot still has to be done to completely sweep crime off the streets. They said they want more folks to unify, watch out, and begin to speak up.

"They will realize we are not just bluffing. We are serious about where we live, and we are serious about putting the people behind bars," Schmid said.

If you would like to start a neighborhood watch program in Gautier, please call Diane Schmid at (228) 623-1841.

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