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:} 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