How Rutland residents are taking on crime - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How Rutland residents are taking on crime

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RUTLAND, Vt. -

"My grandson is growing up there now... It's a good neighborhood," Mike Moran said.

Moran says his family has lived on Park Avenue in Rutland for nearly 23 years, but over the last decade the neighborhood has changed. He says there are days the kids don't feel safe playing in the front yard.

"I can't even tell you how many days that I've talked to him and he said, 'I've picked up more syringes today... My daughter picked up syringes today,'" Moran said.

Police say Park Ave. has become a hot spot for criminal activity, mainly drug trafficking. But a group of residents say they are ready to take back their street.

"It's one of those things that is going to take a lot of time, we understand this. But it's got to be done," Moran said. "Like they say, the buck stops here."

Several years ago, Moran and a few Park Ave. residents began meeting every few months. They formed a Community Watch Group and began keeping an extra vigilant eye. The members would monitor the street and work with police to report unusual activity.

"They networked with us; they reported suspicious activity and suspicious vehicles. And over time, they were instrumental in a lot of the investigations that have taken place in that neighborhood," Rutland City Police Sgt. Matthew Prouty said.

Over the years, the number of group members grew and the vigilant observations increased. Prouty says resources are tight and having extra eyes in trouble areas has been crucial for several busts. Prouty says the work this group has done has had a direct implications on federal drug investigations. Although the group is small, he says they have been a big help for the law enforcement community.

"We are asking that if you do see something that doesn't seem right, that seems suspicious, you feel there may be some criminal activity-- please call us," Prouty said. "You never know when you are giving us a piece to the puzzle from another investigation."

Moran says the countless hours they have dedicated to cleaning up the crime on Park Ave. is absolutely worth it and he hopes other streets will do the same.

"It's taken a long time to get where we are at, but you have to crawl before you can walk. But we're past the crawling stages. We are walking. And now it's time for some of the other streets to start up with theirs," Moran said.

A group not waiting for change but becoming a part of the solution.

Rutland's police chief says there are several other similar community watch groups across the city and hopes one day to bring those groups together for support.

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