HARRODSBURG — Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kelty hopes to renew interest in the community’s neighborhood watch program by offering complimentary seminars throughout the area in August.
While Kelty does not want any citizen to try to take the law into his own hands, exercising simple observation skills can go a long way toward helping prevent crime. Thus, he along with volunteers from Mercer County Crime Stoppers as well as area fire chiefs will offer educational programs as part of “Neighborhood Watch Month” in August.
One problem Kelty has, like most other law enforcement agencies in the state, is a lack of manpower. He and seven deputies regularly juggle numerous duties, including emergency calls, arrests, serving warrants, handling citizen complaints and court security. Kelty is working with Mercer Fiscal Court members to find the funding to hire an additional deputy in the next six months, but he said no matter how many deputies work within the county, there always is a place for neighborhood watch programs.
“Residents know their neighborhoods better than anyone, and with a little education they can notice when there are unusual cars or people hanging around the area,” Kelty said. “They also know their neighbors’ habits, so if someone suddenly disappears, they can alert authorities.”
The sheriff hopes he and deputies will learn more about potential problems in the community as they attend the seminars.
“Sometimes people are afraid to call the sheriff because they don’t want to make trouble for themselves or anyone else,” Kelty said. “But I’ve found that when I’m out in the community talking with people, they are much more likely to see me as ‘Ernie’ and talk to me about problems with which we can help.”
A watch group can be formed around a neighborhood, a block, a street or an apartment complex.
"Neighborhood Watch is one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear," said Dr. Earl Motzer, Mercer County Crime Stoppers board chairman. "Neighborhood Watch fights the isolation that crime creates and feeds upon, forges bonds among area residents, helps reduce burglaries and other crimes, and improves relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve."
Officials will not only discuss the potential benefits of neighborhood watch programs, but also cover the importance of making a family emergency communications plan, an emergency supply kit, and taking first aid, CPR and Heimlich maneuver training.
Also, authorities will offer tips for home and community security, personal property identification, recognizing and reporting suspicious persons and terrorism, what to do and what not to do if stopped by a law enforcement officer, and health prevention do's and dont's. All seminars are free, do not require an advance reservation, and anyone from any community can attend a seminar. For example, a person from another part of the county or even a neighboring county such as Boyle could attend a presentation in Burgin or Salvisa.
"Most neighborhood crime in Mercer County is opportunistic and can be effectively reduced through simple crime prevention techniques," Kelty said.
The neighborhood watch seminars will be held at the following locations:
7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, Salvisa Fire Department, 164 Sugar St.
7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, Cornishville Fire Department, 4539 Cornishville Road.
7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, Mercer Central Fire Department, 200 Morris Dr.
7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, Dixville Fire Department, 2470 New Dixville Road.
7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, McAfee Fire Department, 2805 Louisville Road.
7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, Lion’s Park Community Center, 450 East Factory St., Harrodsburg. Led by Harrodsburg Fire Chief Christopher Dean.
7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, Shakertown Fire Department, 3318 Shakertown Road.
7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, Burgin Fire Department, 115 Maple St.
7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, Terrapin Fire Department, 2750 Talmage Mayo Road.