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Lathrop groups take stand against crime

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Lathrop groups take stand against crime

Lathrop Police Services Lt. James Hood, kneeling center in front of sign, and members of the Crescent Park Neighborhood Watch pose for a group photo during National Night Out on Tuesday.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED August 7, 2013 2:01 a.m.

LATHROP – Steve and Lisa McDonald know the power of one – as in, working as one. That unity and cooperation has been instrumental in getting rid of the crime and unsavory elements that they found when they moved into the Mossdale Village neighborhood just a block away from City Hall.

“When we first came in, it was bas. There was a lot of drug houses and break-ins,” said Lisa McDonald during the National Night Out block party on Tuesday held on the front lawn of her Neighborhood Watch co-captain Erica Menendez.

But after they formed their Neighborhood Watch group five years ago, “they moved away. We pushed them all out,” Lisa McDonald said about the criminal elements that were prevalent in the area at the time.

Maintaining the visibility of their pro-active Neighborhood Watch group has, in large measure, contributed to the success of their efforts. Whenever they have their quarterly meetings, Lisa McDonald said they meet in an area that has seen police activity. Their group is also on Facebook. And recently, they have also neighborhood.com as “a way to tell everybody what’s going on.”

Visibility is also a goal of the residents living in the neighborhood around Crescent Park at the north end of McKee Boulevard just south of Lathrop High School. Neighborhood Watch co-captain Genie Giguere said their goal is to “try to have a neighborhood with a Mayberry feel,” referring to the quiet town from the 1960s sitcom.

“We pay attention to our neighbors. We meet and try to know who they are, what cars they drive,” said Skjervheim who shares the duties of a Neighborhood Watch captain with neighbor Pat Skjervheim.

When model homes in their area were hit by vandalism recently, residents in the neighborhood noted “kids that don’t belong in the area” who were acting suspicious and called the police. The police came to investigate and the kids were found to be the perpetrators of the crime. Police then called the parents of the young suspects.

“We’re being pro-active for our neighbors,” said Giguere.

Whenever they have meetings or gatherings such as the block party at the Crescent Park Tuesday night, “we all have ID cards,” she said.

“Kids are encouraged to play, we meet each other and just try to learn who is your neighbor,” she added.

Many of those who attended the potluck gathering were young families. The Neighborhood Watch group also received a certificate of recognition from State Senator Cathleen Galgiani. The certificate was presented to Genie and Jack Giguere by Lt. James Hood of the Lathrop Police Services.

Like the group on the south side of City Hall, the Crescent Neighborhood Watch was formed just four years ago.

The two block parties were just two of the nearly three-dozen sites where National Night Out neighborhood events were celebrated. One of the sites was Lathrop City Hall. Each of the sites were visited by Lathrop Police headed by Chief Denelle Hohe, members of the Lathrop City Council including Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, and Lathrop-Manteca Fire District personnel.

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