Letter: Ninth Street Park Neighborhood Watch not going away

From: Christopher Rutan

Ninth Street Park Neighborhood Watch coordinator


Recently, multiple stories have been in the local newspaper, on television and on social media that suggest a feud among city leaders about neighborhood watch programs here in Columbus. One point of contention is the validity of the Ninth Street Park Neighborhood Watch. It’s been suggested in clear terms that the Ninth Street Park Neighborhood Watch allow itself to be absorbed by the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center.

The Ninth Street Watch began in 2010, whereas LCNFC Crime Watch did not start until 2014. We’ve successfully improved the neighborhood in quantifiable ways and, as a group, made many more officials aware of what needs to be done. We are willing to work with any helpful individual, and after unnecessary drama we remain willing to cooperate with related organizations. However, several sworn public officials have made it clear that they will not work with us.

Confusion now runs rampant within the local watch community. Deep disappointment is being felt among those who live within the Ninth Street Park area. Since January, we as a group have been pressed to make changes to legitimize a watch that is registered with the National Sheriff’s Association. We have cooperated with these requests but are still being denied recognition by the city that’s benefited from the Ninth Street Watch since its inception.

We tell everyone that we see and speak with that the Ninth Street Park Neighborhood Watch is not going away. We will keep working for the benefit of our neighborhood and the community around it. Simply abandoning what’s been effective for us and our neighborhood is a non-starter. It won’t and absolutely should not happen.

I recently suggested in a meeting with Columbus Police Department Chief Jon Rohde that if he wants to see all groups working together, that he could arrange a meeting with the leaders of all of the community’s watch efforts and broker mutual cooperation. We can help each other. We can help the police. We can certainly structure the necessary administration of our watch programs more efficiently. We can assure coverage where coverage is clearly needed, and we can resist an inappropriate effort to marginalize a demonstrably effective watch program.

The Ninth Street Park Neighborhood Watch does not duplicate resources. If our active existence constitutes an unnecessary duplication of efforts, the same standard can be applied to CPD’s habit of rolling two or three units to a call for service. We believe that CPD does that for a wide variety of good reasons, and we also believe that actually covering our own neighborhood is the option more effective than mere talk about doing so among those who don’t live here.

As a registered and active watch, we can choose to join forces with another group if we see that it benefits our neighborhood. Being told by a duly sworn public servant that our only path to official cooperation is a merger with the LCNFC, which serves the community in other capacities, is not acceptable to us.