Resident State Trooper Eric Kelly told the Middlefield Board of Selectmen at their March 18 meeting that some complaints from the Lake Beseck neighborhood weren’t reaching the police in time for the police to act on them productively if the complaints went only to the Crime Watch group.
Kelly is encouraging Lake Beseck residents to call police first when they witness something suspicious. In addition to 911 for emergencies, residents can reach police at 860-349-9685. Calls to that number will always be answered, Kelly said, because they roll over to the barracks if they are not picked up at the Middlefield office.
The Crime Watch group, officially called Lake Beseck Crime Watch for Health, was founded in 2008, ironically enough because a number of crimes and small thefts went unreported to police.
In an interview with the Town Times, Crime Watch captain Amy Poturnicki said that the group serves multiple functions in the neighborhood. Members, numbering over 100 households, get e-mail updates about activity in the neighborhood. The group also serves as “an avenue so police are aware we’re getting a rash of this or that,” Poturnicki said.
“We’re all alert and aware of each other,” Poturnicki said. “If there’s something weird, we report it.”
The Lake Beseck Crime Watch website says that the group will report incidents to the police for residents who feel uncomfortable talking to police.
It was this function of the group that concerned Kelly. “If they call us versus calling her, we go right away. If I get the e-mail a day later, the likelihood of me finding the two individuals that someone was complaining about are slim to none.”
Both Kelly and Poturnicki acknowledged that some people do not feel comfortable talking to police.
BOS members speculated on other reasons residents might hesitate to call police in addition to discomfort around law enforcement, and those reasons matched up with reasons listed on the Lake Beseck Crime Watch web site - the belief that the crime or suspicious activity is probably minor, the thought that the police won’t be able to help, and the concern about “bothering” the police.
“They need to call us. They can be anonymous. We don’t need names, we don’t need numbers,” Kelly said. “I’d rather go up there 100 times and find someone that’s supposed to be there ... then not go up there the one time and that’s when someone’s house gets broken into.”
BOS member Ed Bailey said that residents might not be aware of the number for routine police calls (860-349-9685) for concerns that do not rise to 911 emergency levels. Bailey suggested putting the number for routine calls on the neighborhood Crime Watch signs.
Poturnicki said she includes the routine police number in her e-mail updates and encourages residents to call police first. With a sentiment similar to Kelly’s, Poturnicki said, “The police would rather come out 100 times for nothing then not be called when needed.”
The Crime Watch group will continue, Poturnicki said, to keep residents alert and informed and communicate with police. “Every neighborhood needs a Crime Watch,” Poturnicki said.