From strolling to patrolling: Dog walkers in local city now helping police fight crime
HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) - Talk about “paw patrol.”
A new program in Hewitt is putting policing in the hands of dog walkers.
"When COVID-19 hit, we noticed throughout Hewitt, we had a lot of people out exercising in the mornings and evenings, walking their dogs, out with their families, and we thought 'what a great idea' on launching this program," said Jim Devlin, Chief of Police for the City of Hewitt. "This is a perfect opportunity for people to watch out for one another, especially when it comes to issues of crime."
This week, Hewitt PD launched Dog Walker Watch, the agency’s latest community policing program which enlists the help of citizens out walking their pets to assist in keeping the city’s neighborhoods safe.
"We'd love to say we have law enforcement officers everywhere all the time--it's just impossible for us to do," said Devlin. "But by implementing neighborhood watch-sty[e programs like these, citizens can contact us because they're out and they see these things where we may not actually be there."
"It's a community-based program to help us protect the community."
Devlin says they're simply taking advantage of the extra eyes, ears....and noses...that are out-and-about in their community.
“We know that community members, they know what cars are supposed to be there and not supposed to be there, they know what activities should and shouldn’t be taking place, because these people are out in their neighborhoods and talking to their neighbors,” said Devlin. “We know they walk the same routes, exercise and bike the same routes, and so we thought was a fantastic program to put together to pull people together, specifically the dog walkers, and kind of teach them a little bit about what suspicious activity is and when to call the police.”
To enlist some of the city's dog walkers to turn their strolling into patrolling, HPD asked people to sign-up online and provided training documents on how to recognize suspicious activity.
About 25 people have volunteered to be part of the program so far, and by doing so, they receive red bandanas for their pups to wear on walks, identifying them as the Dog Walker Watch.
"It seemed like an opportunity to kind of kill two birds with one stone--walk our dog and help keep an eye on our neighborhood," said DWW member Ricky Crooks. "We always need to keep an eye on our communities."
Crooks, his wife Dana, and their miniature Schnauzer Woodrow, moved to Hewitt about two-years-ago, partially because the city was consistently ranked as one of the safest in Texas.
The Crooks say they joined DWW to help the city stay that way.
"We just want to do our part to try to keep it safe and make everybody feel as safe as they can be," said Crooks.
Devlin says the group hasn't led to any arrests just yet, however, it's only a matter of time before they help 'take a bite out of crime.'
The agency plans to continue to add more training resources for group members in addition to tips on ways to stay safe while out walking.
Residents interested in joining the Dog Walker Watch can contact HPD at (254) 666-6272.
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