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New neighborhood watch pilot program

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From the power of social media to the people of Guam taking charge of their community-today lt. Governor Ray Tenorio and the Guam Police Department announced the launch a neighborhood watch pilot program taking an innovative approach using technology. Barrigada mayor June Blas says crime in the central part of her village decreased 80% since a neighborhood watch program started two years ago in her village.

"We need to work together and be a watchful eye for everyone," she said, "because to keep our community safe. We've been victimized and vandalized in our community, but we took charge back in and said 'enough was enough."

And as part of efforts to take the lead in the fight against crime, Tenorio and the Guam Police Department announced the launch of a new neighborhood watch pilot program starting with Barrigada. Tenorio said, "We always have to try to reinvent and recreate and improve the existing ideas. "We're just trying to get the community a little bit more engaged, informed and to look out for each other."

And while Barrigada and several other villages have some form of a NWP, this pilot program will have more involvement with the Lt. Governor's Office while innovatively using technology. Bureau of Statistics & Plans director Wil Castro says the Guam State Clearinghouse has aggressively been pursuing federal funding to leverage social media which includes the launch of a territorial-wide Facebook and using Instagram, Twitter and a neighborhood watch mobile application. "Phase I is simply a notification tool, Phase II may have a GPS component to that which we'll be able to have a distress signal and button if you want to report an emergency. Phase III you'll be working with folks at the different agencies like the Fusion Center who already have an existing data base of reported activity throughout not just Guam but region," he said.

He adds the team will be also be establishing a volunteer cyber division consisting of Americorp interns. Acting Chief of Police Joseph Cruz meanwhile says the pilot program will also incorporate aspects of NWP's from across the nation. "And what we've done, is we've taken the latest and greatest, so as we look at new technology to help the neighborhood watch program, we're also taking those best practices that we see that are successful in the nation, those procedures that have been proven to work and we're bringing it into the neighborhood here," he explained.

The ultimate goal of the program is to expand to every village on Guam, with Mayor Blas saying, "We want to show the other villages that they can do it, too."

Meanwhile, a town hall meeting is set for tonight at 7:30pm at the Barrigada Mayor's Office to get more feedback on the program. For more information, you can email nwp@guam.gov

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