GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The plague of neighborhood crime is something that impacts many communities across the coast. Police rely on people in these neighborhoods to be their eyes and ears on the streets. These people form community watch programs.
It was a stormy, summer night in 2003. Michelle Kidd's little ones had just finished saying goodnight.
"They were walking back to their bedroom and it was just, 'Pow, pow, pow.' And even though we didn't normally have gunshots in our neighborhood, it's something, I guess, about it that you know," said Kidd.
She and her kids immediately hit the floor, and while she was holding her family close, her thoughts were racing.
"Who could do such a thing? I mean, why? I kept thinking, why?" said Kidd.
It was then that she decided something had to be done. Her neighborhood was no longer safe, and she wanted to change that. She started working with the Gulfport Police Department to set up a community watch on her street. Now she's the captain of her block.
"It's been a job, I mean it's been hard to keep on," said Kidd.
But, persistence and constant communication with the Police Department helped Kidd make the neighborhood what it is today. Her work has foiled thefts, disputes, and other crimes throughout the community.
"If the neighbors ban together, and just uphold the law and be the eyes for the police. People that live that kind of lifestyle are not going to feel comfortable living in your neighborhood," said Kidd.
And with Kidd keeping an eye on the neighborhood, people are feeling safer calling this street home. Matt Pierce was looking for a place to live five years ago, and chose this street for the safety.
"I really like it and one of the reasons I got it was that I saw her outside with some of the kids in the neighborhood just outside playing with her kids," said Pierce. "She's like a second mom. It's fantastic."
For Kidd, it's all about doing what she believes is the right thing.
"What would you want in your home? What would you want in your neighborhood?" said Kidd.
There are more than 50 neighborhood watch communities throughout the city of Gulfport. If you're interested in setting up a watch in your area, contact your local police department for more information. Or you can call the WLOX News Crime Watch Hotline, which will be open to your calls from 4pm to 7pm Thursday. We'll have law enforcement officers from across South Mississippi at the station to answer your questions and take any information about crimes happening in our community.
We will publish the hotline number shortly before the phones open Thursday, so check out the WLOX Facebook page and WLOX.com that afternoon. We'll also begin a special online only webcast beginning Thursday at 3:30pm.