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West Side Residents Have First Neighborhood Watch Meeting

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By Emily Girsch.
On Binghamton's West Side, crime has been high, but on Friday night residents took a stand to make their neighborhoods safer.

"It's time that we take back our neighborhood and it's time that we make standards on what we will take and what we will not take," said Councilwoman Dani Cronce, who organized the meeting.

Last month city officials announced the arrests of four youths for a string of robberies and car thefts that took place on the west side.

In the past, Binghamton police have said that BU students make easy targets, especially if they're distracted.

Keith Shapiro is a BU student who lives on Oak Street.

He had an ipod and a sweatshirt stolen from his car, and he said he doesn't always feel safe in his this part of town.

"It's a little scary," he said.

"I'm afraid to be out later with my friends. I won't go back with them or I'll stay over with them if I feel like I shouldn't walk home."

The goal of Friday night's meeting was to get West Side residents involved in protecting their streets.

Cronce said that getting to know your neighbors and their habits is important.

She will also be appointing a "block captain" for each block that neighbors can report to if they see unusual activity.

"If we have a leader on each block, it makes it easier for the rest of us to call the block captain," she said.

"The block captain can take care of things faster."

Residents agree that working together and having regular meetings will help cut down on crime.

"The police can't do it all by themselves," said Sarina Barrera, who lives on Lincoln Avenue.

"They can't constantly monitor the west side all the time."

A second neighborhood watch meeting for the West Side is scheduled for next week.