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Opelousas police revamping neighborhood watch program

Posted at 9:46 PM, Jan 01, 2020

Opelousas Police are kicking off the new year, with a reestablished Neighborhood Watch Program.

The program isn't new to the area, but participation has slowed down over the years. Now, officials say a relaunch will help keep crime down.

Along one Opelousas road, a sign is making it known that crime won't be tolerated in the area.

"We need to be the eyes and ears of the police because they can't be everywhere all the time, but we can," Joe Soileau said.

It's a motto Soileau lives by as the coordinator of the neighborhood watch program. He's keeping watch of the area he loves and lives in.

"What we did is we brought it into our neighborhood a couple of years ago," Soileau said. "We were having some issues and we wanted to find a way to maybe get everyone in the neighborhood involved and give information to the police so they can do their job."

Soileau added, "We had some issues with what we assumed was drug activities and they pretty much were. The thing about it when you start alerting the police of that, they can start watching your neighborhood."

Now, Soileau, along with the police department are hoping to spread the initiative beyond this one neighborhood.

"We had a neighborhood watch program many years ago and then for some unknown reason it just relaxed," Police Chief Martin McLendon said. "Now, people have taken on our message of 'all hands on deck.' We are trying to reclaim those neighborhoods."

Soileau plans on teaching other neighborhoods how to run a successful program. He says it's not only a way to prevent crime, but a way to get to know his neighbors

"It gives us a sense of community," Soileau said. "You meet people who have lived down the street for 10 years. You know their name, but you don't really know them. The more you get to know them, the more you want to look out for them."