In an effort to bring more eyes and ears to Antioch to help reduce crime, Antioch City Councilman Tony Tiscareno helped facilitate a meeting with the Delta Association of Realtors over lunch on Thursday to discuss the expansion of the Looking Out For You Program.
In this program, Brokers and Realtors would be trained to look for suspicious behavior, observe suspicious behavior in and around vacant homes and report it to the police department.
The idea behind the program would serve the city of Antioch by getting people off the streets while helping improve the safety of realtors when showing homes or hosting open houses.
Councilman Tony Tiscareno highlighted the lunch was an introductory discussion to see if the real estate industry would be interested in such a program. Last year Tiscareno helped facilitate bringing the program to Antioch with the help of the garbage company and postal service.
“This is a feel good story for Antioch because you see workers and companies in the city working with the police trying to prevent crime,” said Tiscareno. “This isn’t a new concept I created or about taking credit, its about taking a great idea implemented years ago and moving it forward to help the community. It died down in the past and its time to bring it back and get more businesses in-tune and involved.”
Tiscareno noted along with realtors, pest control companies, comcast and other small businesses would provide more eyes and ears involved noting that any eye out there watching for crime is a positive thing to have.
During the meeting, Police Commissioner Bill Cook noted how neighborhood watch has grown to more than 500 block captains within he City, the highest its ever been. He also highlighted how more Antioch residents are calling in which is resulting in arrests being made.
“People have stepped up and started calling in saying this is what they look like. This is where they went and this is what they were driving,” said Cook. “We are seeing a big difference in people saying this is my neighborhood, this is my city and I am not putting up with it anymore. This is why we are seeing more neighborhood watch.”
Tiscareno noted that the City of Antioch has two realtors (he and Lori Ogorchock) on the council and to use them as resources with this program.
Antioch Police Lieutenant Diane Aguinaga highlighted that the police department is looking for help within the community due to reduced staffing. She noted that the department went from 126 sworn to 76 officers with no special units. She also noted the lack of community service officers for a time, but stated the community service officers are slowly returning.
“What we learned from the downturn was we need help from the community. We need your eyes and ears more than anything because there is so few of us and we are running from call to call to call, mostly violent call to call,” said Aguinaga.
She also provided tips for Realtors to use when calling dispatch to ensure an officer will respond quickly versus a few hours. For example, if a realtor is about to show a house and there are squatters or people hanging around the house, tell dispatch you do not feel safe going into this house and express the feeling of not feeling safe. If you think someone may be in the house, you need to say that.
Aguinaga noted a rise in squatters in vacant homes as well as marijuana grows and provided tips of what to look for so it can be reported to police.
According to Aguinaga, within the City of Antioch, violent crime is down 10% compared to where they were last year while police are performing proactive details which target the high crime areas to retake the neighborhoods from drug dealers. In the next six months, they will bring 1-officer back to a traffic unit and will have a two-man unit staged in the Sycamore corridor.
The meeting was considered introductory and for Realtors or agencies looking to move forward, the next step will be scheduling training.