Officers, citizens discuss neighborhood safety at Blue Ridge Elementary School

Thursday, February 11, 2010 | 10:11 p.m. CST; updated 10:38 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 11, 2010

COLUMBIA — When Angela Haigh and Mary Jo Magoffin moved to the Meadowland Subdivisions in 2008, more than 30 crimes had been committed during that summer alone, Haigh said.

Although she loves her home, Magoffin said she was concerned about crime rates when she first moved to the neighborhood. “I didn’t want to live in fear,” she said. “I wanted to be proactive.”

Now, a year and a half later, Magoffin serves as the captain of the Neighborhood Watch, and Haigh is the vice president for the Meadowland neighborhood. Haigh has participated in Neighborhood Leadership programs offered by Columbia Neighborhood Services.

During the summer of 2009, Haigh knew of only two crimes reported for the neighborhood.

Both women were present at the Neighborhood Safety Summit on Thursday night at Blue Ridge Elementary School. The event was organized by Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala in an effort to address public safety and let Columbia police address questions from citizens. Around 15 people attended.

Haigh and Magoffin attributed the decrease in crime to efforts made to help local police. “We need to help be the eyes and the ears for our neighborhoods,” Magoffin said.

Officer Benny Cook of the Columbia Police Department has volunteered to help train residents such as Haigh and Magoffin to become part of Neighborhood Watch programs. 

Citizen crime-stopping organizations often provide critical assistance to police by reporting suspicious activity as a preventative measure in lowering crime, Cook said. “I think the Neighborhood Watch is one of the best programs out there.”

Skala, up for re-election in April for the Third Ward seat, is campaigning for the deployment of Street Crime Units. He said 85 percent of Columbia crime takes place outside of the downtown area.

Haigh said the best advice for residents concerned with crime in their neighborhoods is to get to know their beat officers and to get to know their neighbors.

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