“That’s the goal of the Dock Watch Program, to make people on the lake more aware of what’s going on around them,” said Assistant Police Chief Ed Brasher. “They can be extra eyes and ears for the police department.”
Brasher said the police department began the Dock Watch Program in 2010, due to thefts from boathouses and docks.
“When you patrol on land, you can’t see what is behind the houses on the water,” he said.
Brasher said last year, the first full year for the program, reported crime dropped to zero.
“This year we’ve seen an increase in thefts,” he said. “I think it’s due to the economy. There have been at least four thefts from docks and boathouses this year.”
Police Chief Greg Turley said he anticipated an increase in reported crime.
“Last year, we had minor reports such as missing property that was quickly recovered, so no actual police report was necessary,” he said. “We are very pleased this year to have an increase of reported crime, because it means our citizens are more involved.”
Turley said the Dock Watch Program is a change of patrols, evolving to a community policing philosophy.
“Community policing results in an increase in reported crimes, because it is putting more individuals who have a vested interest into the solution of eliminating crime and the fear of crime,” he said.
Turley said he believes there is an individual or individuals responsible for the thefts this year so far.
“We have a situation plus community involvement, which will hopefully result in the capture of this individual or individuals,” he said.
Turley said the better view the police department has of the crime that’s out there, the more adequately they can respond.
“Because we are taking the community philosophy to the lake and engaging the community, we are learning about crimes never reported to the police,” he said.
Brasher said participation in the Dock Watch Program is free.
“You sign up to be on an email list and will receive emails regarding activity on the water,” he said.
Brasher said to sign up, email you name, address and phone number to email@example.com.
“We encourage you to email us when you see strange or suspicious activity,” he said. “You can also put in requests for services, such as extra patrol requests if you are going out of town.”
Brasher said the majority of calls the Pell City marine officers respond to are rescue calls and to remove dangerous or hazardous debris (not regular trash).
“We send out activity reports to people on the email list, basically an update of lake activity,” he said. “We usually send them out weekly, or as needed.”
Brasher said the coverage area is roughly from Dye Creek down to Harmon Island.
“That is our typical patrol area and Dock Watch Program area,” he said.
Brasher said the best way to reach the Pell City marine officers is to call St. Clair County Central Dispatch at 205-884-3333 or dial 911 if it’s an emergency. They can also be reached on channel #16 on a marine radio.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.