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Claremont grassroots effort focuses on crime prevention

The break-in at Euro Cafe last month was the last straw.  Edgar Reece had become aware of the swell in commercial crime throughout Claremont, but when he heard that his friend’s Base Line eatery had been victimized, it struck a nerve. Instead of remaining irritated, he acted.

“Policing in our community is not just the responsibility of our police department,” as Mr. Reece saw it. “We as citizens must be involved in crime prevention and being vigilant.”

Mr. Reece is the force behind the Claremont Crime Prevention Coalition (CPC), a new grassroots effort to keep the neighborhoods of Claremont safe. In partnership with the Claremont police and other local and national groups, the nonpartisan nonprofit hopes to provide the local community with an additional tool in crime prevention and awareness.

“There have been a lot of changes to the law in regards to jail overcrowding, etc. and those things could have a direct impact in our community,” acknowledged Mr. Reece, founder and president of the CPC. “Whether there has been a statistical increase [in crime as a result], I don’t know. But this is what I do know: We as a community have become more and more aware of what’s happening, and we need to be more involved.”

The CPC is taking matters into their own hands with the help of Claremont police and other community partners. Mr. Reece and accomplices are taking the safety services currently available in the city of Claremont—policing, the neighborhood E-watch program, and Chamber alerts—and expanding on them. The CPC is connected with the Crime Prevention Coalition of America, a program of the National Crime Prevention Council. The Crime Prevention Coalition of America (CPCA) boasts more than 400 community groups across the nation in an effort to encourage citizen action in stopping crime, providing the CPC with a wealth of information and programming, in place across the country, right at their fingertips.

“It provides us with an opportunity to bring in outside expertise that could provide us with additional information and resources,” Mr. Reece explained. “It allows us to get out of the bubble.”

Just as important as national resources is the local involvement, Mr. Reece recognized. His first step was reaching out to the Claremont Police Department, and establishing a base partnership for future programming. CPD was happy to lend its support. As far as Chief Paul Cooper was concerned, the more outlets for citizens’ safety, the better.

“The partnerships between the community and their police department is what helps us to keep people aware and to work with us in reporting suspicious things, persons and vehicles,”?Chief Cooper said. “I have no doubt that the partnership with the Claremont Crime Prevention Coalition will provide an additional resource. 

As the number of employees in the Claremont Police Department’s community services bureau gets slashed, residents have answered the call to fill the gap in spades.

“It’s just one more way to prevent crime,” said Steven Llanusa of the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education, who heeded Mr. Reece’s call for community members interested in joining the CPC’s advisory committee. “[The CPCA] may not have new information, but they have new ways to communicate it so we don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel.”

Mr. Llanusa’s reasons for joining the CPC were 2-fold. His interest stems from being both a member of the school district and from his roles as president of the Claraboya Homeowners Association.

“Schools have been hit hard with copper thefts…and in Claraboya we have had a problem not with the houses, but with the car burglaries,” Mr. Llanusa explained. “Anything that can help to reduce these problems would be a godsend.”

A slew of other active Claremont residents have also added their help to further Mr. Reece’s cause, including former mayor Ellen Taylor, Randy Prout and Lee Jackman, a friend of Mr. Reece’s since their time together on the American Cancer Society Board.

“I was impressed by his vision,” Ms. Jackman said, particularly taken with the idea of getting information out to the public as soon as possible. “Social media is playing a huge role in just educating people about what’s happening in Claremont,” Ms. Jackman said. “People can be alert, looking for things.”

The coalition is quickly learning about the rapid turnaround of social media. Last week, the group’s Facebook page received 5000 visitors, according to Mr. Reece. Their crime alert on last weekend’s AM/PM robbery alone received almost 1000 views.

In addition to mere crime alerts, the CPC is making use of their webpage to send out public education pieces. On Sunday, the CPC published “Simple Steps to Stop Burglaries,” a feature that helped bolster hits to their site. The CPC looks forward to watching the numbers continue to build.

“We are still in the infancy of this, but it is growing rapidly. We are putting all these systems in place and have had great cooperation with the police department and the chief,” Mr. Reece said.

As Mr. Llanusa paraphrased the old adage, it takes a village to protect one person, Ms. Jackman noted that “keeping our community safe is not just the responsibility of our police.”

The CPC can be reached anonymously on their toll free line, 450-5535 or at info@claremontcpc.org. View their latest updates at www.claremontcpc.org or for Twitter updates, follow them at  www.twitter.com/claremontcpc. In the case of an emergency, the CPC reminds the Claremont community to call 9-1-1.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

 

Police to offer crime prevention tips at community meeting

The Claremont Police Department, Claremont Chamber of Commerce and the Claremont Crime Prevention Coalition will host a public information session on Wednesday, April 17 from 8 to 9 a.m. to address the recent uptick in commercial crime. The event will take place at the Claremont Chamber office, 205 Yale Ave.

Officers will be on hand to give residents and business owners tips on how to keep the community and local businesses safe.

The event is free, but an RSVP is required. Sign up by sending an email to contact@claremontchamber.org or call 624-1681.

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