The Neighborhood Watch program is becoming a thing of the past in Covington. But in its place is a program that combines public safety from a variety of sources and community involvement that will hopefully work with the city's strategic action plan to promote Covington as a safe environment.
A team made up of Covington Police, Covington Fire and Covington/Newton County 911 personnel developed SCAN (Safer Covington Action Network), with similar traits to the Neighborhood Watch program, but offers more, according to CPD Capt. Ken Malcom.
"SCAN's mission is to gather and distribute important information to and from our community, educate our residents and business owners in areas of crime prevention, fire prevention, crime reporting skills and other quality-of-life issues, and to simply make each citizen feel that they live in a safety community."
Part of the reason for the change is that many of the Neighborhood Watch grounds in Covington had become dormant, and the program itself had gotten a bit of a bad rap. The goal is for communities to establish a SCAN program and public safety officials will be able to attend meetings and offer tips and information to the groups. City leaders will also attend the meetings on a regular basis.
"It would be up to [the neighborhoods] to host a meeting and we would attend and assist. SCAN groups are driven by the people who live in that community... We want our citizens to feel safe in our community and the best way to do that is to have partnerships with people in the community who are there to protect them. This is a project that we feel can enhance the quality of life for our residents."
The process of replacing old Neighborhood Watch signs with fresh new SCAN signs has begun. The signs range in price from $11-$14 each and are paid for with seized drug funds.
"What's so awesome about it is that it's not law enforcement and the community, it's more of a public safety and city leader partnership. There might be a session on law enforcement related issues and personal safety, but also on fire safety and call reporting skills, which is very important when you observe certain activities. We're hoping that neighborhoods will participate and as they meet they will include us to share this information on a regular basis and ultimately make us work together to make the community safer for everyone who lives and works here."
Anyone interested in the SCAN project can contact Malcom at (770) 385-2126, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the CPD's Facebook and Twitter pages.