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Neighborhood watch group growing on Saratoga's East Side

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Albany/HV: Neighborhood watch group growing on Saratoga's East Side
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Several months after a string of high profile crimes caused a stir across the city, the Saratoga Springs Public Safety Department hosted a public meeting. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, a growing number of residents are taking a more active role when it comes to policing their own streets.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – "Some of the incidents that have happened within the city, a lot of the local folks on our side of town are very concerned about some of the things."

A mother of two, Deanna Sawyer is hardly the only resident of Saratoga's East Side who grew concerned after police say a woman was attacked near the intersection of Caroline and Granger streets back in April.

"We've seen such great growth in our city, unfortunately, some of the things that come along with that you have to address," Sawyer said.

Sawyer was one of roughly a dozen residents to attend the city Public Safety Department's special meeting Thursday night. While meetings are scheduled every four months, this is the first since a string of high profile crimes occurred this spring.

"This is a department that impacts the lives of all of our citizens very directly and maintaining the lines of communication, I think, is very important," Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen said.

Sawyer is among a group of neighbors working to establish the East Side Neighborhood Watch Association, which already boasts more than 2,000 homes and businesses. Sawyer said she got involved after a driver crashed into a parked car on her street after speeding down the block in the wrong direction.

Police Chief Gregory Veitch says those types of groups can help encourage people to report crimes they might otherwise keep quiet about.

"People will say 'Hey, I thought you were too busy or you wouldn't be interested in this particular bit of information,'” Veitch said. “When really the important thing to remember is, if it doesn't look right to you in your neighborhood, you need to call the police so we can check it out."

Citing statistics from city-data.com, Mathiesen said Saratoga's crime rate still remains low and compares favorably to other local cities, despite the recent instances. Even so, officials encourage residents to take a more active role in keeping an eye out.

"I think people do recognize it's a safe city, but there are some crime issues they have to be aware of," Veitch said.

"I think there's strength in numbers. I think people who are informed make a stronger community and I think that's what we're all hoping for," Sawyer said.

Anyone interested in the Saratoga Springs East Side Neighborhood Watch Association can contact the group at ss.es.nwa@gmail.com.

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