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Rochester Residents Become Neighborhood Watch Dogs

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Rochester: Rochester Residents Become Neighborhood Watch Dogs
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A group of Rochester residents are taking a stand to reduce crime in their neighborhoods. The South of Norton Street Block Club held a neighborhood watch ceremony Saturday. As YNN's Sheba Clarke explains, the event was a way to encourage others to speak out against crime.

A group of Rochester residents say their plan is to take back their neighborhood.

One such resident, Sylvia Salmon, said, "If we don't try to fight to keep the neighborhood up, I can't move. Where would we go?"

She has lived on the same Van Stallen Street block for the past 25 years.

"When I moved here it was a beautiful neighborhood. It has changed over the years and I still love it." said Salmon.

She says most of the change is a result of crime and for the past three years, she has worked with The South of Norton Street Block Club to try to keep the block safe.

"We are getting there. We are getting to safety, but we still have to get things straightened out," explained Salmon.

Saturday afternoon the president of the club celebrated the group's first official sign to be displayed in the neighborhood.

Resident Hector Vargas said, "We started the neighborhood watch and we saw that it made a difference. It slowed down the open air drug markets, it slowed down the criminal activity."

Vargas also lives in the neighborhood and said the event is a way to encourage other residents not to be afraid to speak up. Even if that means calling the city police's anonymous drug hotline.

"If you have drug house in your community, if you have people smoking marijuana and blunts on the front porch, do not confront them, do not say anything to them. 428-6000," Vargas said.

Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard encourages the work of the neighborhood watch group. He said it takes a community to solve crimes.

"I do think it's key for them to be willing to step up even if it is just calling 911 to say there's suspicious activity. Having the signs up and letting people know that we care in our neighborhood because where crime goes is where they know people don't care," Sheppard said.

Vargas remarked, "A famous person once said for evil to triumph all that has to happen is for good people not to do nothing."

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