Kim and Jeff Edwards make their home in Central Park, Washington. The couple owns their own business – Image Sign.
Like many other residents of Central Park, the family enjoys the atmosphere of living in a rural neighborhood situated between Montesano and Aberdeen. Waking up to the sounds of birds singing, surrounded by evergreen trees, rhododendron blooms and green grass fills Kim’s heart with hope.
Spring is an ideal time to drive through Central Park and look at the picturesque area. With its green backdrop doused with colorful blooms, the Central Park landscape is, as some of us put it, the “quintessential northwest.” Central Park, technically unincorporated Aberdeen, is a census-designated place with over 2,500 residents that share just over 3.5 square-miles of space.
Kim and Jeff built their Central Park home a few years ago. After settling in and making their house a “home,” they quickly felt comfortable. It was quite a shock, when last winter, they came home and found that their house had been burglarized.
Reflecting back on the situation, Kim said, “Our neighbor drove by and saw a vehicle parked in our front driveway. They stopped and thought, ‘that’s strange, I don’t recognize that vehicle’ but they didn’t call 911. (The neighbor) didn’t want to bug (dispatch) because he wasn’t sure if (the car) should be there or not.”
Kim added, “I do that too; I don’t want to bother the police.”
Around the same time, other Central Park residents were experiencing similar intrusions. Kim was mad her house was robbed and that other neighbors were also becoming victims.
Kim turned to the local fire department for help and was referred to the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s office. That’s when Steve Shumate, Chief Criminal Deputy, came to her assistance.
Deputy Shumate suggested she start a neighborhood block watch. “Unincorporated Grays Harbor County (Sheriff’s jurisdiction) currently has eight Neighborhood Block Watch (NBW) groups that are affiliated with the Sheriff’s office. The first and longest running group is the East Hoquiam NBW which started in January 2014,” shares Deputy Shumate.
A Neighborhood Block Watch, according to Deputy Shumate, is a way for concerned citizens, like Kim, to help.
Kim says that with community teamwork, residents can in fact help reduce crime. The Central Park Neighborhood Block Watch’s slogan is “See it. Hear it. Report it.” During a routine meeting, a Sheriff’s department representative shares information about different calls that came in to the 911 dispatch center. The group also encourages neighbors to be prepared to act by calling 911 to report suspicious behavior.
Kim talks about how the group was originally formed to diminish crime, but several months later, the community members are inspired to make change. Capitalizing on her grant writing skills and experience being interconnected with county officials, Kim says that the group’s goal is to “see crosswalks, school zone signs, and maybe even a new park.” With over 150 signatures gathered for a request to add school zone signs on School Road, she is encouraged.
Kim hopes more people will step forward and create a Neighborhood Block Watch because building relationships provides residents a great opportunity and resource to improve community awareness. Kim says, “Getting people together to try and reduce crime is beneficial to the community.”
Follow the Central Park Neighborhood Block Watch Facebook page for more information about upcoming meetings. To start your own Neighborhood Block Watch, contact Grays Harbor County Deputy Sheriff Steve Shumate via email.
Kim wants you to remember – if you see something suspicious, or hear something suspicious, please call 911 to report it.