ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Chief of the Palmer Police Department is spearheading a community and business crime watch program in the city after continued reports of residents feeling unsafe.
Chief Lance Ketterling held a public meeting at the Depot in Palmer Wednesday night to discuss the plan.
“We hear an awful lot at the police department that people are experiencing an increased amount of fear, just walking to the store,” Ketterling said.
"But what we want to do is dispel that fear and get people to understand that it's still a safe place to live, and you're not powerless."
The goal of Wednesday’s meeting was to set up watch groups across the city — an idea Mayor Edna DeVries can get behind.
“I just think the more eyes that we can have that are open and alert and aware — and Palmer really has a deep sense of community and caring for each other,” DeVries said.
Chief Ketterling says these watch groups should start through face-to-face interaction to gain each other's trust, and they will only work with a constant information exchange between watch groups and the police.
"Fundamentally at the core, the police are the public and the public are the police," Ketterling said.
This same effort has been tried and failed over the last five years. One person attending Wednesday’s meeting asked Ketterling how many watches have successfully started within the Palmer city limits.
“We’re probably down to one, or none,” Ketterling said. “And that’s one of the issues about keeping these things healthy and keeping them going.”
However, he thinks the plan will work if the city can keep the watch groups small in size, but numerous in distribution.
Asked by a resident how big of an area a community watch should cover, “No bigger than a subdivision," Ketterling replied. “Often, they're just a few blocks."
You can get involved with Neighborhood and Business Crime Watch by contacting your local police department.