Guam- Fed up with criminal activity occurring in their village, the Barrigada community has finally launched their village watch program. While it may not stop crime, the program encourages residents to take ownership of their community and prevent crime from rising any further.
Over 100 people attended the launch of the Barrigada village watch program last night [Wednesday] at the Barrigada Mayor’s Office.
The program was considered by Mayor June Blas and her staff for quite some time, but a May 26th home invasion spurred them to act now. The home invasion happened more than two weeks ago on San Vicente street. A Korean family reported to police that they were awakened by two men who entered their home just before 2 a.m.. One of the men went through a purse and the other suspect went into the daughter’s room with a knife. Both men were chased out of the home by the husband and no one was injured.
Former Chief of Police James Marques says the Village Watch Program cannot stop crimes from happening. However, as the coordinator of the program and a Barrigada resident himself, he stresses it can deter criminal activity and encourage the community to watch out for each other.
“This program will not stop crime,” said Marques. “There is no guarantee that when this program rolls out, we will not be a victim of a crime. However, it takes us as a community or a village to reduce and deter crime. We own Barrigada! We own our property! No one has any right to come in and take our property! So we need to fight as a team. We outnumber the criminals. We just need to make it happen.”
Marques says they are organizing their Village Watch Program by blocks, developing specific teams and establishing a plan of action. The Guam Police Department, Guam Crime Stoppers and the Attorney General’s Office also committed as partners of the program and making their services available for residents.
“I just want to let you know that my office is there to help you get through that scary episode that may happen once in your life or maybe never,” said Attorney General Lenny Rapadas. “But we will also provide a lot of education as to what’s going to happen, what you need to do.”
“The police can’t do it alone,” said Police Chief Fred Bordallo. “We need to partner with the community and the neighborhood watch programs across the nation, as Chief Marques had said, is successful when all the resources are put into it and people are committed and dedicated.”
“Ask us,” said Guam Crime Stoppers Coordinator Officer Paul Tapao. “If we don’t have the answers now, we’ll research it and get back to you. We want to see this program succeed and we can’t do it without you guys.”
Mayor June Blas believes this program will help generate a better quality of life for her community. After dealing with a rash of burglaries and car thefts, including her home being burglarized over a year ago, she emphasizes it’s time to listen to their children, listen to each other and do this program for everyone’s sake.
“We are going to wake up and we are going to do this together,” said Blas. “Am i right? Are we going to do this together? We have to do this together!”