The San Bernardino County Sheriff's stations in Apple Valley and Hesperia are planning to join forces in an effort to relaunch local Neighborhood Watch programs.


"We've noticed it's kind of gone by the wayside," Karen Hunt, spokeswoman and crime prevention officer for the Apple Valley station, said by phone last week. "So now we're thinking outside the box to bring people back to learning about these programs."


Hunt said she and Sue Rose, spokeswoman and crime prevention officer for them sheriff's Hesperia station, have devised several ways to get local residents back involved in preventing crime in their communities, and knowing what to do when crimes do occur.


The first of those plans is an information sharing event scheduled for Nov. 5 at the town of Apple Valley's Conference Center.


The meeting will be geared at providing information to residents who are interested in learning what the programs are all about, how to get involved, how to start a Neighborhood Watch on their block or how to become a Community Watch member.


"We've had a few people interested in starting their own watches but who have trouble getting others on their block on board," Hunt said. The Community Watch program will be open to those people who still want to be active in the program without the commitment from their neighbors. "Through the Community Watch, we've found a way to circumvent the normal program."


In addition to the Nov. 5 event, Hunt said the two stations are looking for interest from the public in a community citizens academy that would inform residents on general neighborhood watch practices and principles, how to be a good witness, how to properly call in crime information and how the different sheriff's departments work.


"A lot of people have misperceptions about some of these things," Hunt said. "We think through an academy, the public can get a better understanding and we can establish better teamwork between us and the public."


The first academy would likely be in January after the busy holiday season has passed, but Hunt said they'd be offering more information about it at the Nov. 5 meeting and possibly offer sign-ups for the academy then.


Another plan Hunt said she's working on with Rose is opening up meeting space for Neighborhood Watch groups that, for one reason or another, don't have a place to gather regularly.


"Sometimes people aren't comfortable hosting a watch at their house, so this will offer them a different way to have the same kind of material presented," Hunt said, "and we'll also be there if they have questions about their area." The idea is to find a mutual area and location to host the meetings based on interest, according to Hunt.


"Opening up the Community Watch program, starting up the citizens academy, maybe rekindling the block programs we just want people to know Neighborhood Watch is still out there," she said.


The Nov. 5 information sharing event will be at the Apple Valley Conference Center, 14975 Dale Evans Parkway. For more information, call Hunt at 760-240-7400, ext. 7457 or Rose at 760-947-1549.


Martial Haprov may be reached at 760-951-6236 or at MHaprov@VVDailyPress.com.