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A Neighborhood Watch For Our Longwood Family

If you see them on their own, especially after dark, take a moment to keep your eye on them.

The Longwood students are our family. For some of us, that is literally true. They are our sons and daughters. All of them are someone's son or daughter, moms and dads who have entrusted the safety of their children here, with us.

Farmville is their home. That is both literally and figuratively true because the US Census counts them as residents of Farmville. They live here nine months, or more, out of the 12 months that comprise a year.

They are this community's sons and daughters.

And they need our care, and concern.

We can help fill in the cracks of their vulnerability with moments of awareness. There certainly have been moments of vulnerability filled in violently by those who aim to do them harm. Groups of people looking for crimes of opportunity.

After just over two weeks into the fall semester there had been three assaults on students, one of them on campus, the other two off campus and just outside our homes, right there in one of our neighborhoods.

If all of Farmville creates a Neighborhood Watch for the students living or walking or jogging through these neighborhoods then this community can increase the safety of these sons and daughters.

There are some simple things everyone can do that will increase their own safety, and the safety of their neighbors, at the same time. Turn on your outside lights, for example. And leave them on all night. The light helps drive out the darkness. The light helps bear witness to anyone committing a crime against person or property by making it easier to see those details of identity which can solve crimes if the light from our porches and front walks isn't bright enough to keep a crime from being committed.

A well lit neighborhood is safer for students, safer for everyone.

Yes, the Town of Farmville has stated its determination to add several strategic street lights-around the Grove Street Park area, for example-but let there be light, and let that light be from everyone and all across Farmville.

Another act of defiance against crime is equally simple. If you see a student walking down the street or sidewalk after dark, don't turn away until they are out of your sight. Keep your eye on them until they have passed safely from your view. Doing so will take just a handful of seconds but much can happen in the blink of an eye.

Let's keep ours open.

If something doesn't look right or feel right, follow the advice local law enforcement gave LU students at last week's Safety Forum-call the police.

Most of the effective precautions must be taken by the students, themselves. That is true. Nor are Longwood and Farmville the only Virginia campus and community to see students attacked this fall. Students need to be aware of their surroundings, avoid walking alone and especially alone and in the dark.

They shouldn't be texting while they walk, the known senses and their sixth sense distracted.

But that is true for all of us.

The first thing police tell the entire community when any sort of burst of criminal activity occurs-such as robberies-is to be aware of your surroundings. And to discourage break-ins-keep your outdoor lights on.

Turning all of Farmville into a Neighborhood Watch is good for everyone.

Except the criminals.

During Longwood's safety program, the university's president, General Patrick Finnegan, told those in attendance, “I'm glad you are here because this really is a significant issue for all of us at Longwood and in Farmville. It's not just a Longwood issue. Not just a Farmville issue…”

The solution, like the problem, belongs to us all.

Help close the window of opportunity on those looking for crimes of opportunity.

Lights on.

Eyes open.

Farmville is a safe community. Let us make it safer.

-JKW-