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Local Pastor Planning to Revive Neighborhood Watch Program

LAWTON Okla_ The leader of a Lawton church said a rise in crime in the area has prompted her to start a neighborhood watch program.

Rector Shelley Forrester of Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church near 13th and D Avenue has been here less than a year. She said in the last few months, church members and residents have told her there's been quite a bit of crime in the area, which prompted her to take action.

Rector Forrester would like to have the program up and running by the end of this month. She said this was an idea that she has been thinking about since arriving in Lawton last year, and now is a good time to get started.

She said from the first time she stepped in the church, she noticed that some of her church parishioners were nervous to be at the church at night. She soon found out they had good reason to be.

"We had a couple of neighbors in the neighborhood who called the police when they saw our building was being maybe scoped or broken into," Forrester said.

She said it has happened on several occasions but, so far nothing has been taken. Still, members are hesitant to come to nighttime events.

"It makes me nervous about scheduling things at night," Forrester said. "I'm worrying that people aren't going to show up and things like that."

Forrester said she saw several neighborhood watch signs posted around the church, but she found out from Lawton police that the group has not been active for quite some time. She said the recent criminal activity has made it even more of a reason to make the program active again.

"It's just important that we try to encourage safety and try to discourage some of the bad things that go on in this world," Forrester said.

If the neighborhood watch program does take effect, it would cover the area from Gore Boulevard south to the railroad tracks between F and G Avenues and from 11th Street west to 17th Street. They will have an organizational meeting January 29th at 6:00 pm at Saint Andrew's, which will also be attended by a representative of the Lawton Police Department.   

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