What Rights Do Neighborhood Watch Programs Have? - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

What Rights Do Neighborhood Watch Programs Have?

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Augusta, GA -

"When we call them, they come," said Sammie Sias, head of the Sand Ridge Neighborhood Watch Program.

Sammie Sias is referring to the police.  As head of Augusta's Sand Ridge Neighborhood Watch program, he focuses on the importance of knowing how to obtain a safe community.

"We stress the basic things.  Cleanliness, observing, and respecting the law, respecting your neighbors. And if you do those things, you're on your way to a safe and prosperous neighborhood," said Sias.

But as a citizen, how far is too far when it comes to protecting your neighborhood and taking matters into your own hands?

"Since you're not a law enforcement officer, you're not obligated to confront the individual, we are," said Lieutenant Lewis Blanchard, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Lieutenant Lewis Blanchard with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office says the best thing you can do is observe and report. 

"Somebody obviously walking through your neighborhood who looks suspicious does not require you to take immediate action," said Lt. Blanchard.

Sand Ridge neighbor, Mac Hunt, says he knows this advice first hand.

"I've encountered problems a couple of times where I've had to call the police and my problem when encountering those problems, I told them, 'Well, I'll go and see if I can find some more information on the person that I've called on, and I was told to stand down," said Mac Hunt, a member of the Sand Ridge Neighbor Watch program.

Knowing how best to handle protecting your streets is most important.  Something Sias says can be best put in to practice when communities come together for betterment of all.

"It is in our best interest for every neighborhood to have a neighborhood association and be part of an umbrella group so that the same problems in different neighborhoods can be addressed," said Sias.

To learn more about how to start neighborhood watch program in your area, call the Community Services Division of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office at 706-261-0436.

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