As Crime Concerns Rise, a Recap of Recent Crime Watch Meeting

Opportunity is now here for the Governor and Elected officials to ensure that demarcation of S.O.'s and Felons should be legislatively passed.

"When I founded the Glen Woods Crime Prevention & Improvement Association in 1999, my goal was to address all safety and security issues having an impact on the community. By holding community meetings, with an emphasis on developing a positive working relationship and partnership between Law Enforcement and the community."
                  ~Albert Melikian, President Glen Woods Crime Watch & Prevention

Mr. Melikian and I organized the Crime Watch meeting at the Glen Hills Elementary School on September 19, 2012.  At 6:30 PM residents in the surrounding areas (Glen Woods, Glen Hills, Oak Hill Terrace, Brayton Park, Dean Estates, Westgate Plat etc.), poured into the lobby and signed in to get on a newly formed email database that once finished will get periodic updates and requests.

The auditorium holds around 420 people and 241 were seated and the rest stood.  I understand many were turned away due to room capacity, and we regret having to turn anyone away but we did not anticipate the turnout.  I would like to mention, in past years this meeting took place in Mr. Melikian's backyard and only 40-65 people attended.

The meeting started with Mr. Melikian making opening statements and then turning it over to Colonel Marco Palombo. 

Colonel Palombo and his men presented a PowerPoint that rolled out the http://www.crimereports.com/   This website is a powerful tool, and can go directly to your phone.  CrimeReports is the largest and most comprehensive crime-mapping network in the world.  CrimeReports works with thousands of law-enforcement agencies to help reduce, prevent and solve crime by enabling officials to easily open and manage a controlled dialog with citizens.  We offer an online family of crime fighting tools including a public crime map, alert messaging, anonymous tipping and data analytics ~ and, it’s all done in real time.  It has been around for several years and will aid in our desire to know what is going on immediately and is completely adjustable with Charts outlining trends in neighborhoods to towns.  Many like the iPhone & Mobile App feature for signing up to specific alerts.

There is also a comprehensive State-Sex Offenders mapping ability.  NOTE:  Go to Cranston PD's website because theirs is up-to-date, whereas this is not always the case with the State. You can find it on Facebook and Twitter and access this way too.

Dean Estates is being targeted. Resident question:

Q: Are there any distinguishing patterns? 
A:  Yes, Saturday evenings 7-11pm are those houses that homeowner’s leave for the evening. Answer:  Consider changing your nights and keep changing for now.

Q:  How do Burglars know if your alarm is on or off?
A:   Your panel is right near front door and light is either Green or Red.  Voila!  It takes 3-5 minute response time.

Keep Lights on; know who your neighbors are; awareness of trucks or strangers walking around and suspicious - report it.  Have your alarm company call police immediately.

Chief, currently we have 7 in the academy.

Dean Estates Resident: 

Q:  My house was broken into 1 year ago and there was a 14 min delay and 45 minutes service car responded.  Why so long?
A:  I need to get the specifics of your situation as I will have to further invesitage and will speak to you after.

Chief, to give you an example, a couple broke into 22 cars that they possibly hit 40 cars.  Many of these cars are unlocked, you must lock your cars.

Q:  Do we report Hang-up callers?
A:  Chief, Yes, you can if its happening a lot. Then Mayor Fung suggested *69 is a log of that callers hang up.

Chief said they have put unmarked cars in Dean Estates to monitor the situation.  One resident said she hasn’t seen any of the (funny, because that would defeat the purpose if CPD made Unmarked that obvious).

Q:  What about the Vision Appraisal (Database: http://data.visionappraisal.com/CranstonRI/DEFAULT.asp) that gives criminals access to your home’s blueprint?
A:  Several residents refuted that “blueprint” statement and said it only gives a square feet building approximation versus the “Blueprint”.  [NOTE: It does give a picture of the home and as stated a square foot structure outline.  It used to be more detailed years ago, but is now only structural.]

Q:  If you call CPD for 3 false alarms do you get fined?
A:  If you take steps to address the reason of why its false, then send an email to the Chief of your findings and we will not charge you.

Chief, there are 12 Districts and we are District 2.  I have implemented community policing and a more centralized system.  They secured a 1.5K grant to hire 7 officers for 3 years.  I want you to know that B&E style crimes are people who are not looking for you to be home and they know exactly where to go….your Bedroom and take your pillowcases and help themselves to your jewelry.

Representative Nick Mattiello takes the lead of the meeting.  Early 2009 the Urban League House of Hope takes over management of Harrington Hall Homeless Shelter.  The cap was a “Gentlemen’s Handshake” to have a maximum of 5. Keep Cranston Safe is a small group that specific formed to thwart off Sex Offenders being housed at this facility.  They have been trying to move the community to call the Governor and complain.  Talks about the property values being decreased.   If it moves to a permanent facility, we need to be empathetic to Homeless folks and not seem like we are against them.  He said there was a proposal made to Governor Chaffee to exclude Sex Offenders and he said he knows the Governor would honor that.  (I thought to myself…yeah a Gentlemen’s Handshake – NOT!)

Jim Ryczek, Executive Director of RI Coalition for the Homeless (also a Glen Woods Resident), said we seem very insensitive.  He said the long term planning must be made intelligently.  Dialog should be more constructive as this group has a viable option to housing the Homeless, rather than forcing people out of the community.

Suzanne Arena, Advocate-Activist, Glen Woods Crime Prevention Member, stated that in March, The House of Hope promised to implement programs when they first took over for A.T. Wall stating they would create day programs so they’re not hanging around outside all day.  Why haven’t these programs been started??  Ryczek responded because they don’t have the proper facility to implement. Arena sated that it shouldn’t matter if it’s a little house or a nice big house – the programs should have been started.

Suzanne further stated, Did you know that there is no State mandate to have our Schools, Libraries and other City buildings display some of the Level III and II in the back for staff.  This notification is especially essential where there is a shelter with sex offenders nearby for public awareness.  Also, it’s not that we are saying we don’t want Homeless people like Vets, and other residents - - we are saying we don’t want Sex Offenders housed there.  How would you feel if you were suddenly homeless and had to be cohabitating with Sex Offenders and violent felons?  It shouldn’t be happening and Mr. Melikian and myself have found property options to house them far away from here.  We should be part of those back room talks with the Governor.  I don’t trust the back room gentlemen’s handshake deals – they don’t work for me.  We have had as many as 9 Sex Offenders, when we wanted a maximum of 3.  In February, we had 2 Wanted Sex Offenders and there was virtually no alarm in notification.  There are many issues with the laws and I hope to have some of them addressed with the legislators that are here and have helped in the past, as I am very grateful to Sen. Gallo and Reps. Mattiello and Palumbo for putting in legislation already.

Rep. Mattiello went on to say he encourages emailing and telephoning the Governor about this issue because they are monitoring the public’s outrage with the situation.  He further said he believes that Gov. Chaffee would honor the agreement, but can’t comment what the next governing regime would do.  Suzanne Arena, stood and said I don’t believe in Gentlemen’s word in Rhode Island or politics, we need a written agreement, not oral.

Chief Palombo said that he was formerly a Correctional Officer and worked directly with Sex Offenders.  He said clustering Sex Offenders is dangerous.

The Alliance for Safe Communities is a non - profit dedicated to assisting Communities to achieve the promise of a safe environment that is made to them by government. ASC-RI has been contacted by the Glen Woods Crime Prevention and Improvement Association regarding the issue of the Harrington Hall population moved to the Gloria McDonald building on the campus of the ACI complex. The community felt that the impact to the surrounding neighborhood would prove negative to quality of life issues as well as safety concerns. The population at Harrington Hall is inclusive of homeless as well as those on probation, parole, and sex offenders.  This population would now be in a transitional, Triage program both residing and receiving services in the Gloria McDonald building to assist them upon return to our communities.

The relationship between the existing status of the Harrington Hall arrangement and the community is tense at best.  The community is unwavering with their complaints regarding the current population and the impact to the neighborhood and burden on law enforcement.   It is in the opinion of ASC-RI that unless moving forward there is transparency and forthrightness regarding addressing the communities concerns, this project will prove to be controversial and not embraced, not only by the Cranston community, but to all Rhode Islander's and tax payers in the future." 
      ~Carolyn Medeiros,  Executive Director : Alliance for Safe Communities   www.asc-ri.org 

"We all could be just a tragedy or house fire away from being Homeless.  Shelters are necessary, especially with the economic recession Rhode Islanders continue to face.  Given the facts by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 40% of America’s chronically homeless people suffer from some type of serious mental disorder.  Then factor in the Veterans, families whom lost homes & jobs, and those they are all currently are housed under the same roof as known Felons and Sex Offenders (S.O.'s).  This is alarming and unsafe to noncriminal homelessness, along with our neighborhoods.  Opportunity is now here for the Governor and Elected officials to ensure that demarcation of S.O.'s and Felons should be legislatively passed.  Then we can ensure those criminals are placed out of the Cranston Homeless shelter, and/or any Rhode Island Shelter.  There are many potential sites to house these problematic homeless criminals, and none of them are in Cranston." 
   ~Suzanne Arena, Adovcate-Activist, Member of Crime Watch

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mike White October 03, 2012 at 10:04 AM
My alarm pad is inside my home in the laundry it cannot be seen by any door...duh. My property has been violated many times NO one cares.
Mike White October 03, 2012 at 10:05 AM
*laundry room*
Suzanne Arena October 03, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Hi Mike, glad to hear your pad is in a place I would want it too. Seems like common sense - LOL What area are you? What are your thoughts on Survellience Camera's as they have great success in UK and in some States here in? The problem going forward is the Re-entry for criminals is going to get scary and things are going to only get worse because jails are crowded and they parole much earlier.


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