01 May 2014

During my time (1993 to 1999) as President of {the now defunct} South East
Clevelanders Together {SECT} I worked to promote community organizing in
Cleveland, Ohio {Slavic Village} to address quality of life issues {such as
crime watch} in an aggressive and systematic manner. Crime Watch is
defined as "a neighborhood surveillance program or group in which residents
keep watch over one another's houses, patrol the streets, etc., in an
attempt to prevent crime." {source: dictionary.com} The key word here is
"group" not "individual."

To the best of my knowledge no one belonging to
SECT ever took it upon themselves to patrol the streets alone. That would
have been a very dangerous proposition considering the type of riff raff we
encountered when patrolling as a group. In fact most crime watch activities
were conducted out of sight {and hence out of harms way} due to the
requirements of what makes for successful crime watch techniques. This
involved substantial training and certification and direct contact with
police and various community groups. It was never about getting into your
car and driving alone down the street while communicating to a police
dispatcher what you see and intend to do.

True crime watch begins with a
discussion within a group after reviewing numerous complaints about a person
or group causing enough mischief to be considered dangerous and a threat to
the safety {quality of life} of a resident/business owner up to and
including a entire neighborhood. Much thought takes place among the
various groups to formulate a plan to deal with this problem.

From the
media reports I do not see any evidence of this occurring as it pertains to
this case. My impression is one of a "Barney Fife wannabe" who decided to
be the "Lone Ranger" of Crime Watch and precipitate a situation that
resulted in a tragedy for all those affected. Had this occurred in
Cleveland all members of SECT would have immediately dissociated themselves
from anyone "breaking ranks" in this matter.

Sadly, it is still
undetermined just how much of a Crime Watch group really existed at the time
of this incident and therefore leaves only one conclusion to be drawn.

Joe Bialek

Cleveland, OH