Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Tansi Smoke Signals

June 25, 2014

Tansi launches Operation Safe Community

CROSSVILLE — You may have heard that a neighborhood watch group is being established again in Tansi. After a recent break-in in our neighborhood, my wife, Paula, talked with Lt. Gary Howard of the Sheriff’s Department to see what we, as a neighborhood, could do to minimize crime in Tansi.

Lt. Howard told her about Operation Safe Community that focuses not just on crime prevention, but on the “Four P’s”: Crime Prevention, Personal Safety, Disaster Preparedness, and Partnering with law enforcement, including Tansi Security, other neighborhood watch groups, local businesses, and others to help our community. He said he would help Tansi set up our own Operation Safe Community.

There are already about 18 active neighborhood groups in Cumberland County, which tells me that it is time for us to not just try again, but make it work! For now, we’ll refer to it as the “Tansi Neighborhood Watch Group,” (TNWG).

Paula asked June LeClair and Gary Dillon, General Manager of the Tansi POA, to help us in working with Lt. Howard and Jerry Turner, Chief of Tansi Security, to help Tansi with crime prevention first, since this is the issue that affects all of us. Right now, Lt. Howard refers to Tansi as “hot” in terms of burglaries, and drugs are the primary reason for the burglaries.

Don’t feel that you have been left out if you haven’t been to one of the first two organizational meetings, which were intended to be small, as I’ll explain: We posted a few notices for the first meeting on May 29, and June and Paula invited some of the people we know. The purpose of that meeting was for Lt. Howard to introduce The Four P’s and help us decide whether we needed an Operation Safe Community, including a neighborhood watch. It's main purpose was to gauge interest.

There was definitely enough interest to have a second meeting. It's purpose was for Lt. Howard to lead a small group through a planning meeting/work session to decide how best to proceed. We expected about 12 people and 42 came. Word was getting around.

These are some of the most important points and plans made during the second meeting:

• Lt. Howard read a report of Tansi Security activity for January through May of 2014. It was astounding to Paula and I that so few people accomplish as much as they do for us with such limited resources. As one example, he pointed out that it was a Tansi Security officer who apprehended a Sequatchie County inmate who escaped and got himself lost in Tansi recently.

• The Sheriff’s Department has set up a Facebook page for: “Operation Safe Communities Lake Tansi Watch.” When you sign up, it could take a few days to be accepted to this “Closed Group” (i.e., Tansi property owners) because Debbie Houston, Gary Howard’s assistant, has many responsibilities. Since it is a closed group, you will not be able to read entries until you are accepted into the group.

• Lt. Howard told us that our home phones should already be in the Reverse 911 system for Cumberland County. This is a service where we are alerted if it is necessary for us to know about events in our respective areas, such as local emergencies, including weather alerts and perimeters set up by law enforcement that affect the area our home is in. We can request to also be notified by text or cell phones by signing up. To sign up, click the link at cumberlandtn911.org and complete the form.

• Lt. Howard emphasized that as a group, we can be a “loud voice” in the county – a “force of unity.” We are a voting block that can make our voice heard to get things accomplished in our community’s interest.

• We will be well served to use other neighborhood groups as resources to help us get up and running as quickly as possible and work effectively.

• The Sheriff’s Department has developed about 15 seminars that they will present for us as we request them. The first will be on hardening the target to help us make our homes less of a target for criminals. Gary even offered to customize a seminar for us if there is enough demand for it.

Attendees signed up for various committees at the second meeting. Those who attended only the first meeting were not given that opportunity because we were not that organized yet. We certainly need many more volunteers for the following committees – especially the Neighborhood Coordinators. The committees and duties listed could change or be augmented.

• Geographic Committee – Identify logical areas for coordinators to represent and work; identify lots with houses; identify the family in each home; map areas for coordinators; and identify locations for TNWG signs to be placed in Tansi. Bill Atkinson has volunteered to research sign companies who advertise that they furnish such signs.

• Neighborhood Coordinators – Pass on information from community coordinator to neighborhood homes; work with TNWG in identifying concerns and matching resources to the need; meet with neighbors at least semi-annually to develop relationships (for example, potluck picnic or neighborhood training); distribute TNWG material to each of the neighbors and help the coordinator collect or raise money for signs or other important causes (such as to enhance Tansi Security’s resources). Coordinators will also identify neighbors who will be Street Leaders to help the Neighborhood Coordinators.

• Membership – Work to increase membership in our TNWG and recruit coordinators. There will be a great deal of interaction with the Geographic Committee and the Neighborhood Coordinators.

• Seminars/Presentations – Plan training to be conducted primarily by the Sheriff’s Department in such topics as home security techniques, observation skills, personal safety, disaster preparedness, and crime reporting. Will seek underwriting and exhibitors from the community; and secure meeting place and prepare announcements.

• Fundraising – This will be down the line.

• Bylaws and Charter – Develop the charter and bylaws of the TNWG and related issues that arise. This is the first time we have asked for volunteers for this committee, so you could be a charter member!

• Volunteers for Security – Work under Tansi Security’s direction to help secure Tansi. This could be driving or riding in a squad car or staffing the office while officers are on patrol. They have not started accepting volunteers yet because their squad car situation is not what it needs to be to have volunteer patrols. However, we need to know if you would like to volunteer when Tansi Security is ready.

The Sheriff’s department will begin holding leadership meetings and will invite all Operation Safe Community group leaders in the county to attend. Those leaders will share what their communities are doing and experiencing, and the Sheriff’s Department will share information and ideas. Leaders will report back to their communities.

The next meeting of the TNWG will be July 10 at the Hiawatha at 1 p.m. This will be a working meeting for volunteers for the committees listed above. If you are interested in volunteering, please attend this meeting and work with the committee that interests you. We especially need Neighborhood Coordinators for the various Tansi neighborhoods. We need all neighborhoods represented so we can get the best ideas Lake Tansi residents have to offer and make this effort highly successful.

The first general meeting will be planned by the Seminar Committee at the July 10 meeting. It will cover what Gary Howard calls, “Hardening the Target,” which offers the Sheriff’s Department’s best ideas on how to protect your property from burglaries. We will also give a report on what the Tansi Neighborhood Watch Group has done to date and answer questions. We will announce the meeting using the Tansi Dispatch (i.e. by email) and will post notices in places where residents are likely to see them.

We look forward to you joining us in this critical community effort. I think it is safe to say that many of us want Tansi to be a safe and cohesive community that will work together successfully. No one wants to be a victim, and we do not want to be a “hot spot.” We want to be proud to live in Tansi.

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Tansi Smoke Signals
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  • Tansi launches Operation Safe Community

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