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Van Zandt Co. Sheriff announces 'Precinct Watch Program'

VAN ZANDT CO., April 29, 2013—Van Zandt County is launching a new crime prevention program called the Precinct Watch Program. Van Zandt County Sheriff released an announcement about the program which reminisces about the days of old, and defines the new project’s goals.

From Michael Lindsey Ray, the Van Zandt County Sheriff:

“It may not be widely known, but I grew up in Van Zandt County in and around Grand Saline. I remember, and it hasn’t been that long ago, when a person could hitch-hike from one part of the county to another without having to worry about being accosted or becoming a victim of some horrible crime. Odds were the hitch-hiker would even know and be able to trust the people picking them up. I wouldn’t suggest hitch-hiking today though. I remember how my mom could go to the grocery store and not even have to lock the car or park in a safe area. Of course, in those days there was almost as much farm equipment on the roads as there were cars. In those days someone could go exploring in the woods without having to worry about accidentally stumbling upon a meth lab or a cult camp; and people could leave their home unattended with little concern that everything would be just as they left it when they returned. I remember when Van Zandt County was known as a place to go to grow your family instead of a place to go to grow your pot.

Those days of feeling safe weren’t that long ago and although they may seem to be long gone, they really aren’t – not if the Sheriff of Van Zandt County has anything to say about it. I hear from upset citizens who say they are concerned that the county isn’t safe anymore. So, let’s do something about it. It’s time for the good people of Van Zandt County to take their county back - to rid it of a growing reputation that there are few people around to stop someone from doing whatever they want no matter how harmful or how illegal.

The roots of America were formed by good law-abiding citizens who took control to decide what type of communities they would have and what would be the community values and principles by which people would live. That should and can still be the case today. Fundamental to the problem is the fact that the Sheriff’s Office has had to spend too long responding to crime after it has happened without being able to prevent it from happening in the first place. For that to change the Sheriff’s Office needs the eyes and ears of those good law-abiding citizens to assist the Sheriff’s Office with helping those citizens take their county back.

People may not realize that the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for enforcing the law for over 70 percent of the citizens of Van Zandt County, the remaining percentage lives in incorporated cities with their own local police departments. The result is a tall load for sheriff deputies that keeps them busy hurrying from one call to the next, so much so that preventing crime from happening is almost impossible. The Sheriff’s Office cannot take back the county without help - it needs the eyes and ears of every law-abiding Van Zandt County citizen who wants to continue to live, work, and play here with the peace of mind that they are creating a safer place for themselves and their family and friends.

To assist with this idea, I am excited to announce the creation of a crime watch program co-sponsored by the County Commissioners’ Court and the Sheriff’s Office. It is called the “Precinct Watch Program”. This program will fall under the leadership and control of our Sheriff’s Posse. The program divides each county precinct into several sectors from which crime watch volunteers will be recruited. The people who participate in this watch program will receive special training and information and will be part of a communication and response link that will hopefully become the catalyst for crime prevention in Van Zandt County. The Precinct Watch participants will meet periodically to share information and create awareness. With citizen participation, this program will grow and expand to not only provide a meaningful and successful contribution to the Sheriff’s Office but just as important – it will become widely known that Van Zandt County is not where you want to come if you are a criminal, or if you are already a criminal here - you might want to get out while you can.

The Sheriff’s Office wants to keep the citizens of Van Zandt County protected and safe, but this is no small task. We can’t do it the way the citizens deserve without their involvement. Anyone wanting more information about this Precinct Watch Program or wanting to volunteer to participate or wanting information about becoming a member of the Sheriff’s Posse, should call 903-567-4133. Rest assured measures will be taken to help make sure that participation in this program is as safe and controlled as possible, so please give it consideration.

We all deserve a safe community and working together we can make that happen – let’s take our county back!”

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