M.E.D. NEIGHBROHOOD CRIME WATCH
For Everyone Living In the 2800 & 2900 Blocks
Myra, Ernest & Dellwood Streets.
WHO, WHAT, WHY
Though our neighborhood group has no formal name, we jokingly call ourselves “Club M.E.D.” – not to be confused with the luxury resort folks – We take that name from the initials of the 28/2900 blocks of Myra, Ernest, and Dellwood streets which form a cul-de-sac off the 800 block of Willow Branch Avenue.
The purpose of M.E.D. Watch is to deter crime in our neighborhood, to improve our area, and to help our neighbors.
World War II English Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “The chief end of all human endeavor is to be happy at home”. In so far as possible, M.E.D. Watch exists to help people living in our area to be safe, secure and happy in their own homes.
Our group began a little over two years ago in response to youth gang activity in our area.
Late one night a bunch of punks attempted to feed lit firecrackers over the fence to one neighbor’s dogs. The dogs raised a ruckus. Neighbors heard and saw the punks and created a commotion. Soon 13 outraged men and women gathered in the street in bathrobes and pajamas. “Something needs to be done,” someone said. “We need to get together,” someone else said.
That initial gathering in the midnight street started us talking about forming a Neighborhood Crime Watch.
Shortly after this, a coven of young toughs began regularly congregating on a cement wall at the corner of Willow Branch and Ernest. They threw rocks at passing cars, intimidated residents, tortured pets, insulted pedestrians, and engaged in sex in the open street. When one resident rebuked them, one punk threatened to stuff her with firecrackers and shoot her. He declared, “Our gang rules this neighborhood”!
Again a group of residents gathered in the street to discuss our problem and one old man said, “Like Hell, they do. I don’t intend to be ruled by anybody I’m not married to”!
We contacted Officer Thad Danson, JSO, and formed a Neighborhood Crime Watch in June, 2001. There are 65 homes in our cul-de-sac and 37 people attended our organizational meeting. We now meet at least quarterly at various resident’s homes (announced by flyers beforehand).
Often at meetings, various officials of the police department or security firms give brief seminars on fire safety, crime prevention, personal protection, etc.
Here’s something funny:
The initial problem of the youth gang was helped by a simple expedient:
Each afternoon before the punks gathered, we’d pour an 89 cent bottle of Kayro syrup on the cement wall. Soon fire ants build a big nest at that sweet food source. When the punks sat on the wall… Well, something motivated them to move elsewhere.
Bless their tiny hearts.
While this particular band has moved on, crime still exists on our block. Remember back about three years ago when teens derailed a freight train by the Metro? Did you see it on TV? Read it in the newspaper? Well, those kids were from our area.
More recently, within the past two years or 18 months, five of the six houses closest to my own home have been burglarized – tools stolen, money taken, cars stolen, stripped and set afire, windows smashed, pets poisoned. In the overall scheme of things these are relatively minor crimes all, but residents’ lives and homes have been disrupted and made uneasy. Loss has occurred and it is real. One of M.E.D. Watch’s purposes is to make life a little harder for the bad guys for a change.
And we ain’t done yet.
Of course it’s not all crime that goes on around here. The one time I personally have called the cops when I saw a young man climbing through a window down the street, it turned out that he lived in that house and was trying to sneak back inside without his dad knowing that he’d ever been out!
Sorry about that, Guy.
His dad said, “Welcome home, son” -- among other things.
Now, while our group began primarily to protect our homes from crime and harassment , we immediately began volunteer projects to help our neighbors:
For instance, one neighbor who owns a chainsaw volunteers to cut up trees which fall in other neighbor’s yards during hurricanes or summer wind storms.
Some neighborhood guys -- and volunteers from local churches -- built a wheelchair ramp for an invalid around the corner on Green Street.
M.E.D. Watch neighbors donated, collected and delivered a dozen carloads of toys, clothes and household items to missions such as The Lord’s Store, St. Peter’ Episcopal Church; Salvation Army; and the City Rescue Mission. Folks in this block have provided nearly a dozen bikes to the Fire Department’s Toys For Tots campaign.
At Thanksgiving and Christmas M.E.D. Watch people have fixed up food baskets and care packages for the elderly.
Over several weekends last Spring neighborhood volunteers with shovels and wheelbarrows filled in an abandoned swimming pool in the back yard of a heart patient on Ernest Street. And M.E.D. Watch members cleaned up the circle at the end of Myra Street, removing trash, cast-off furniture, bricks and broken glass from where children often play.
M.E.D. Watch members trimmed overhanging branches which were obscuring street lights at the corner of Ernest & Myra; and arranged with JEA to install other street lights in dark areas.
Last November, to beautify the only entrance to our cul-de-sac, 29 M.E.D. Watch members chopped weeds and planted crepe myrtle trees along the fence between Roosevelt Boulevard and Willow Branch Avenue. The trees were provided by JEA’s Communi-Tree Program. Our group has volunteered to pick up trash and care for that area through Jacksonville’s Adopt-A-Road program and we participate in the city’s Clean-It-Up; Green-It-Up activities.
With the help of city agencies we have had 11 junk cars towed away from our three streets. And we have removed over 30 cast-off tires.
M.E.D. Watch has also sponsored a block party – such fun that we are talking about doing it again.
Other activities under the group’s consideration include: a park/playground for area children; visits by a Library Bookmobile; a community garage sale, an area walk-through by our City Councilman and by police officials. --- AND, next November, we anticipate planting an additional 25 crepe myrtle trees along Willow Branch (We’ll have a parkway along there before we’re finished).
Participation in MED Neighborhood Crime Watch is totally voluntary. Membership is open to everyone living in the 28/2900 blocks of Myra, Ernest or Dellwood Streets. We collect no dues or fees of any kind. We have no budget. We just see stuff that needs to be done and do it.
Our slogan: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS -- BUT LOOK AFTER YOUR NEIGHBOR.
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