Eyes and ears on the ground

Res­i­dents take the ini­tia­tive to keep their neigh­bour­hoods safe, by work­ing with the po­lice.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - By S. INDRAMALAR star2@thes­tar.com.my

IT was close to 10pm when the Sec­tion 17 res­i­dents’ com­mu­nity group’s What­sapp line started buzzing fu­ri­ously one re­cent evening.

A res­i­dent in the Petaling Jaya sub­urb had no­ticed three men sus­pi­ciously circling around her house. So, she alerted the group, at­tach­ing im­age cap­tures from the sur­veil­lance (CCTV) cam­era in her com­pound.

The re­sponse from the group was im­me­di­ate.

After get­ting more de­tails, two po­lice­men – who are part of the com­mu­nity chat group – sprung into ac­tion, send­ing an alert to the pa­trol­men on duty.

Mean­while, a few res­i­dents who are reg­u­lar com­mu­nity pa­trollers jumped into their cars and rushed to the scene to keep watch. When two pa­trol cars, four po­lice­men on bikes as well as a few plain­clothes­men ar­rived at the scene about six min­utes later, the res­i­dents briefed them (and the chat group) on the lat­est in­tel. The sus­pi­cious men were hid­ing in a nar­row lane be­hind the houses.

The chat group re­mained the main source of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the res­i­dents and the po­lice with the cops re­quest­ing more in­for­ma­tion and is­su­ing warn­ings to res­i­dents in nearby houses.

All this while, the other res­i­dents on the What­sapp group were glued to their phones, fol­low­ing the con­stant up­dates. It was like a scene from a crime show on TV.

After just over an hour, the cops caught the three sus­pects and carted them back to the sta­tion. There were vir­tual col­lec­tive cheers on the chat group with ev­ery­one ap­plaud­ing the ef­fort of the cops and the fast-act­ing res­i­dent pa­trollers like Steven Khoo, Kelvin Yap, Sashi Nair and Elaine Natha­nial.

Credit, says Sashi, re­ally goes to our Men in Blue.

“Their re­sponse was re­ally fast. The po­lice of­fi­cer we alerted wasn’t even on duty but he called his col­leagues and joined us.

“People are al­ways quick to judge the cops. We al­ways hear talk that the po­lice don’t act quickly enough or at all but this was a re­ally good ex­am­ple of how they re­sponded im­me­di­ately. And it isn’t the first time. They al­ways re­spond fast when we re­port sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity in the neigh­bour­hood. Their com­mit­ment is amaz­ing,” says Sashi.

These Sec­tion 17 res­i­dents have been work­ing closely with the Da­mansara Utama po­lice­men for close to eight years.

They pa­trol their neigh­bour­hood with the po­lice ev­ery Wed­nes­day. They start at 8.30pm with a brief­ing from the po­lice­men, with up­dates on trends and sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­i­ties in nearby ar­eas..

On other days, res­i­dents pa­trol the neigh­bour­hood on an ad-hoc ba­sis.

“Be­fore we go on our pa­trol, we alert the po­lice so that they’d be on stand-by should we need help,” says Natha­nial who leads the com­mu­nity pa­trol group and res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tion.

The bust that event­ful night was, so far, the big­gest, but not the neigh­bour­hood watch’s only one. The po­lice-com­mu­nity al­liance has in the past nabbed snatch thieves as well as bro­ken up fights in the area.

Need­less to say, res­i­dents were truly grate­ful to the po­lice as well as their neigh­bour­hood pa­trollers for their fast work that night. The res­i­dents on the street where the sus­pi­cious men were caught are show­ing their ap­pre­ci­a­tion by pool­ing funds to buy the pa­trollers a set of walkie-talkies to help ease com­mu­ni­ca­tion dur­ing their rounds.

For the po­lice, be­ing in con­stant touch with the res­i­dents is vi­tal to ef­fec­tively keep the area safe. The Sec­tion 17 res­i­dent’s group, they say, is con­stantly feed­ing them in­for­ma­tion about sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­i­ties or un­fa­mil­iar ve­hi­cles parked along the roads in the hous­ing area.

“There is a con­stant flow of in­for­ma­tion. Through the What­sapp group, the po­lice are aware of what’s go­ing on in the area and we are able to dis­patch our pa­trol­men ac­cord­ingly. That night was a good ex­am­ple of how we can act and catch sus­pects, with clear in­for­ma­tion,” says one of the po­lice­men on duty.

The com­mu­nity group also en­cour­ages res­i­dents to re­port any crime or in­ci­dent to the po­lice, re­gard­less of how small it may be. Re­ports give the po­lice an in­di­ca­tion

of how “hot” an area is: if the crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity is high, po­lice pa­trols are stepped up.

“Even if it is a snatch theft or petty theft, we have to re­port it,” says Yap.

At present, the main group of com­mu­nity pa­trollers con­sists of about 10 res­i­dents. It’s a large area for such a small group to cover but they are com­mit­ted to keep­ing their neigh­bour­hood safe.

“Even though we all have full time jobs and are tired after a day’s work, we have to do it. It’s our homes and our neigh­bour­hood. It would be good to have more vol­un­teers, though,” says Sashi, who has been liv­ing in the area for decades.

The for­ma­tion of the com­mu­nity group hasn’t just im­proved the se­cu­rity of the area but it has helped to cre­ate a sense of neigh­bourli­ness among res­i­dents. Like many ur­ban res­i­den­tial ar­eas, neigh­bours don’t of­ten know each other but the pa­trollers are hop­ing things will change soon.

“We are slowly cre­at­ing a real sense of com­mu­nity. We not only pa­trol but help res­i­dents when­ever they need as­sis­tance.

“We of­fer help dur­ing fu­ner­als or when a res­i­dent is away and needs some­one to watch over their house or even their pets and plants,” says Natha­nial who is the lo­cal coun­cil­woman.

“I some­times get calls and mes­sages in the mid­dle of the night. But we’re a com­mu­nity and we have to look out for each other,” she adds.

The pa­trol group was re­cently reg­is­tered as a Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion and are in the process of set­ting up a cabin to fa­cil­i­tate their work.

“At least with a cabin, the po­lice have some­where to be sta­tioned and we have a proper place to meet,” she says.

Just like the group in Sec­tion 17, com­mu­nity groups are in­creas­ingly be­ing set up in neigh­bour­hoods in the Klang Val­ley, which the po­lice say is cru­cial in keep­ing homes safe.

— Pho­tos: M. AZHAR ARIF/The Star

The Sec­tion 17 res­i­dents’s close re­la­tion­ship with the po­lice has helped re­duce crime in the neigh­bour­hood.

Ev­ery Wed­nes­day, the cops brief the pa­trollers on what to look out for in their neigh­bour­hood based on trends.

The Sec­tion 17 com­mu­nity pa­trol works with the Da­mansara Utama po­lice to safe­guard the neigh­bour­hood.

Natha­nial (front, cen­tre) and her team are ever vig­i­lant.

Reg­u­lar po­lice pa­trols not only help es­i­dents feel safe but also de­ter petty crim­i­nals from com­ing out.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.