Morgan City Police Lt. John Schaff talks with residents Louis Hebert and Lauren Hebert after a neighborhood watch meeting Thursday at Doric Lodge 205 on Second Street. (The Daily Review/Zachary Fitzgerald)

Police: Reporting activity key to neighborhood watch

If you see something suspicious or concerning, report it. That’s the message police gave to attendees of a neighborhood watch meeting Thursday.

The Morgan City Police Department held the neighborhood watch meeting at Doric Lodge 205 on Second Street. The meeting was for residents and businesses located in the area from Brashear Avenue to Railroad Avenue and from Front Street to Federal Avenue.

Thursday’s meeting was the fifth area of the city to start a neighborhood watch program. Police held the first meeting about a year ago.

Lt. John Schaff , the department’s public information officer, hosted the meeting. The program is meant to get people in the area to work together to report suspicious activity to police.

Community members will determine how often they want to hold future meetings and the structure of those meetings, Schaff said.

Retired District Judge Ed Leonard, who lives in the area, volunteered to serve as a block captain for his neighborhood and talk regularly with police about what’s happening in the community.

Residents see and hear things that police officers don’t always know about, so giving feedback to law enforcement about activity going on in the area is crucial, Leonard said.

Activity doesn’t have to be criminal to be worth reporting, he said. It can be something such as a street light going out, which is important to have functioning properly for safety reasons, Leonard said.

Residents Louis Hebert and Lauren Hebert attended the meeting to learn what they could do to help keep the community safe and meet different police officers. Lauren Hebert also serves on the Morgan City Street Committee that focuses on promoting the downtown area.

Lauren Hebert was encouraged to hear from police that they want to know about any issues in the area, not just major crimes.

“When you see something, you’ve got to report it. Pick up the phone and call. There’s nothing too small to call about,” Schaff said.

Different areas have different problems, and people living and working in those areas know best what those issues are, Schaff said.

Former City Councilman Barry Dufrene said speeding vehicles and stop sign violations are regular problems in the area.

Bonnie Knobloch , manager of Cafe Jo Jo’s on Front Street, said she’s seen skateboarders go by close to the restaurant and, one time, almost ran over a couple leaving the cafe.

Schaff suggested creating a Facebook page to communicate with residents and business owners about what’s occurring in the area.

Morgan City is a small to medium size city, but has lots of activity. The police department handles more complaints and arrests more people than any other law enforcement agency in St. Mary Parish, including the sheriff’s office, Schaff said.

Therefore, relying on the public’s help is essential to ensuring police can do their job.

“If we have no support from the public or the community or any help from the community, we wouldn’t solve a crime,” Schaff said.

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