A community benefits when its residents play active roles. That can take many forms — volunteerism, local government and charity, to name a few ways that lend a hand and make a difference.

Another way a community benefits and becomes stronger is with organized neighborhood watch groups, which try to deter crime and ensure the safety of neighbors.

Thankfully, Columbus residents are becoming increasingly active in this regard. Neighborhood watch groups are on the rise locally, which is a positive sign.

Currently, 15 neighborhood watch groups are operating with the assistance of the Columbus Police Department, which provides organizational help, tips and contacts with similar local groups.

Local watch groups have proliferated in the past few years, after about 80 residents living near downtown met in August 2013 to address a steep increase in drugs and property crime.

Those are common reasons that neighborhood watch groups start, as is suspicious behavior.

But, so is a desire to know one’s neighbors better.

Regular meetings and social networking services have helped connect neighborhood watch group members and keep them informed.

Some groups have stated they have noticed a drop in criminal activity since the formation of their organization.

That’s a good sign for neighborhoods and a bad sign for criminals.

And it shows that when residents work together for a common purpose, desired changes can occur.

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