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Downtown FD hopes to take a bite out of crime with Business Watch

Leaders of Main Street Fort Dodge are trying to revitalize an inactive Business Watch organization in a bid to fight crime and improve the quality of life downtown.

Business Watch is essentially the commercial district version of Neighborhood Watch. Like the version for residential areas, Business Watch seeks to bring people and law enforcement closer together to reduce the impact of crime.

About 35 people gathered at Bloomers on Central, 900 Central Ave., for a Main Street Matters session dedicated to safety and security.

A Downtown Business Watch was started about three years ago, but it is not active, according to Kris Patrick, executive director of Main Street Fort Dodge.

Joelyn Johnson, a school and community resource officer for the Fort Dodge Police Department, told the group that increasing the quality of life by reducing the impact of crime is the objective of any Business Watch or Neighborhood Watch program.

”It’s community led, it’s not law enforcement led,” she said.

”Most importantly, it establishes the connection between our citizens, our businesses and our law enforcement,” she added.

Being part of a Business Watch doesn’t mean people should put themselves in risky situations, Johnson said.

”The best thing our community can be for our Police Department is to be our eyes and ears,” she said.

She said citizens should observe and report things to police, providing as much information as they can. She said they can also take photos with their phones of things that concern them and show those photos to police.

In another security matter, Jim Bird, president of Main Street Fort Dodge, reported that the group is working with the Police Department to find grants to pay for an extensive network of cameras downtown.