PLANS FOR FREEMAN NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH MOVING QUICKLY
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
In one of his first big moves as the new chief of police in Freeman, Jay Slevin is helping spearhead an effort that he hopes will lead to the establishment of a Freeman Neighborhood Watch program.
Slevin, who was named chief of police last month and replaces Scott Brewer — who took a job with county law enforcement — met with the Freeman City Council about the idea at its July 18 meeting. He also recorded a short video explaining the idea that was shared on the city’s Facebook page on July 26 and drew favorable response.
An informational/organizational meeting to further the idea is scheduled to be held in the meeting room at the Freeman Community Center Monday, Aug. 7 starting at 6 p.m. Anybody with interest in the program is encouraged to attend.
“We’ll see who shows up and try to expand it from there,” Slevin told The Courier, noting that a high level of interest prompted him to move the Aug. 7 meeting from City Hall to the community center. “Anybody who lives in Freeman is welcome to show up. I’m really hoping this takes off.”
Slevin, who just turned 36 and is a 2006 Freeman High School graduate, is actively moving toward a neighborhood watch program in response to what he says has been an uptick in troubling behavior. Since late May there have been reports of suspicious vehicles driving around town observing and photographing properties, a bicycle was stolen from Freeman Public earlier this summer and there have been attempted break-ins at both businesses and homes as of late.
“We’re only one set of eyes,” Slevin says of the Freeman Police Department, which will include the addition of Barron Nankivel as an officer starting Aug. 14. “If I can get people around town interested in this, and really expand it, I think we can deter this kind of behavior.”
Details will be forthcoming, but Slevin said he has been working with Freeman resident Norman Alderson and other interested parties who approached him with an outline for how a neighborhood watch program could work. There are models out there for effective methods, he said, and coming up with one that best fits Freeman is the goal.
The meeting next Monday, Aug. 7 will go a long way toward that end.
“We’re going to try to organize (the) neighborhood watch, explain how it works, and how you can properly report something,” said Slevin, who is grateful for the opportunity to step in as police chief after serving as a Freeman police officer since 2014, during which time he has worked under chiefs Richard Cummings, Kirk McCormick and Brewer.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn from three different people on how they make their approach, and I want to take some of all of that and run it in my own way,” said Slevin, who hopes to make a weekly public statement going forward. “That will keep the public informed and serve as direct communication between me and the citizens. Hopefully that can help develop trust so we can run the police department that much smoother.”
“I feel like I’m ready for this.”