Herald Neighbors

Lynbrook residents revive Neighborhood Watch

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More than a decade after the Lynbrook Neighborhood Watch disbanded due to a lack of funding and membership, two residents are seeking to revive it and held their first meeting on Nov. 29 at Lynbrook Fire Department Headquarters to share suggestions for keeping the community safe.

“First and foremost, we’re residents and neighbors, and we all want to have a stake in our community,” Michael Davies told about 20 residents and local elected officials at the meeting. “And the way we view this organization is a way for us to stay connected, make observations and talk to each other.”

Davies formed the group with Danielle DiGuiseppe over the summer, after several Long Islanders reported that the tires were stolen off of their cars. One of the thefts happened on Hawthorne Street in Lynbrook. “You know you just wake up and you say, ‘You know, I want it to be the way I pictured it my whole life,” DiGuiseppe said of the village.

The watch will work to help law enforcement officials identify patterns of crime in the area and will inform Lynbrook police and village officials about quality of life issues. The members, Davies said, will keep in contact via the Lynbrook Neighborhood Watch Facebook group, and will meet regularly with their neighbors to discuss problems in their neighborhood “because the issues we’re dealing with over in Westwood may not be the same issues you’re dealing with down by Marion Street or up by Fenimore,” Davies said at the meeting.

According to Lynbrook Police Sergeant Brian Paladino, the Neighborhood Watch would deal primarily with “nuisances” in the area. At the meeting, he spoke about James Q. Wilson’s and George L. Kelling’s broken windows theory, which states, “untethered behavior leads to a breakdown of society.”

To reach this conclusion, Wilson and Kelling looked at Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s 1969 study in which he arranged for an automobile to park in a Bronx neighborhood and found that after a few minutes, the car’s windows were broken and people had stolen the radiator and battery. He then parked a similar automobile in Palo Alto, Calif., which was left untouched for more than a week before Zimbardo broke the windows himself. Soon after that, the car was also raided for parts and was ripped apart.

Based on that study, Paladino suggested at the meeting that if the Neighborhood Watch helped with the upkeep of the village, it would become a less desirable place for people to commit crime. “The onus is on you guys,” he told the audience.

Davies stressed several times that night, however, that members of the Neighborhood Watch would not deal with emergency situations. “We’re not here to play Rent-A-Cop,” he said. “If there’s an emergency, call 911.”

The meeting occurred the same day that the Malverne Police Department posted on their Facebook page that a man in his 30s who was driving a Chevrolet van was stealing United States Postal Service packages from people’s front porches. Paladino said that packages were also stolen from Lynbrook, but they were found down the road. That led him, he said, to believe the thief was looking for electronic devices.

DiGuiseppe told the Herald that she thought more communication among residents might have prevented this issue. She said her goal is to “make a presence where people don’t feel so comfortable and Lynbrook’s not such an easy target.”

The Neighborhood Watch will meet again in February. A date, time and location have not yet been set, but will be posted in the Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/337983533327466/.