River Heights enacting neighborhood watch program
By Doug Smeath
RIVER HEIGHTS -- In a time when many Americans no longer trust their neighbors,
River Heights residents have begun using their neighbors as a resource to keep their
Less than a month ago, River Height's neighborhood watch program was still just an
idea in its formative stage. Now, under the supervision of City Council Member Wanda Rhodes,
it's in full swing.
Rhodes, who specifically deals with community affairs, said she decided to start a
neighborhood watch program when she received a bulletin from the Cache County Sheriff's
Office. She said she was excited about the idea because she had already seen the way
neighborhoods could look out for each other and make changes.
"Before we started this, [police] had picked up a bunch of methamphetamine," she
said. She said it was neighbors who let police know that something was going on.
"Neighbors noticed suspicious things -- cars at odd hours, that kind of thing," Rhodes
said. Police investigated and found that the neighbors' suspicions were right.
Rhodes said as a part of her campaign to begin a neighborhood watch program, she
wrote 30 letters to River Heights residents. None has refused to participate, she said.
The program divides the city into districts, and residents in each district watch out for
each other, Rhodes said. She said they learn the names of their neighbors, how many people are
living there, and at what times people tend to come and go. With this information, neighbors can
be aware if anything suspicious is happening.
Though the program is still less than a month old, Rhodes said it has already been
"There's one place where something has been going on for a long, long time," she said.
Cars have been driving onto a resident's property, leaving ruts. Rhodes said neighbors observed
what was happening, and the owner has been asked to put in a fence or a no-trespassing sign.
Rhodes said she can't give details on a case to anyone but police until a crime has been
Another aspect of the new program is what Rhodes calls a "telephone tree." Residents
get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people on their "tree," she said. Then, when
there is a problem, residents call the next name on the tree until the problem is solved.
Rhodes said this serves to connect neighborhoods and give residents a relatively quick
link to the entire city.
"There are so many things that can happen," she said. "Cars driving slowly or without
lights, people trying to get kids to come to their cars -- it's all what we look out for."
Rhodes said she has personally seen how a telephone tree can work, not in River
Heights, but when a relative's child turned up missing. When the parents began to worry about
their son, they started calling people on the tree, Rhodes said. After three hours of calls, the child
was finally found, playing at the home of a new friend.
"We feel comfortable knowing that people we trust are looking out for us," Rhodes