SALE - The torch has been passed to a new director of the Salem-Perry Township Neighborhood Crime Watch organization.
Since founding the group in 2007 at the suggestion of former Mayor Jerry Wolford, Roe Haskin has been at the front and watched membership soar to over 200 members and level out to 100, where it stands today.
Cara Milhoan, a Crime Watch member since 2008 who initiated the block watch at Salem Acres, was named the new director but Haskin will assist when he's needed.
Roe Haskin is retiring as the first director of the Salem-Perry Township Crime Watch group. A founding member, he is being replaced by Cara Milhoan, a veteran of Crime Watch since 2008, who is not afraid to speak her mind. “I think she’ll do a good job,” Haskin said. The organization has about 100 members. (Salem News photo by Larry Shields)
"Everything I've started, I'd like to see continued," he said Thursday. Milhoan said that was one of her goals. Along with letting people know they "are still around."
"We're here to help," she emphasized.
The volunteer group operates under the National Crime Prevention Council and uses some of its material like McGruff the Crime Dog.
A few years back, Milhoan provided a tip that was passed along to her through a couple of people that led to the arrest of a graffiti painter in town.
"It turned out the be a 32-year-old man," she said.
Haskin said the essence of the organization is helping and the group relies on a big fund raiser on July 3 when it hosts National Night Out at Waterworth Memorial Park.
Haskin said its the concession from the holiday event helps drives other activities, pointing out that Wolford would solicit donations for the fireworks while Crime Watch provided a bounce house and entertainment.
"Last year we had our first cruise," he said, adding they look forward to expanding it this year. Car owners set up canopies behind their vehicles and enjoy the day.
"We started a community garden three years ago," he said. The 50 by 150-foot garden is located next to the recycling center and provides tomatoes, green and hot peppers, herbs, strawberries and melons that are donated to the Salem Community Food Pantry.
"We figure we helped over 3,000 people," Haskin said and tabulated the total manpower hours over its first four years at 9,900 hours "donated to the city and over 7,000 car hours" patrolling the city.
"Mostly on evenings until about midnight," he said, explaining that all people have to do is fill out and application and pass a background check.
"You have to buy your own shirt," Milhoan said. "We're the eyes and ears. If you see someone get in your car what would you do? You would call police, that's what you would do and as a Crime Watch member, that's what you would be expected to do."
Haskin said when the organization started up, it asked for $300 to pay half its incorporation fee but was advised there were liability issues.
There weren't any with Perry Township which kicked in the money to place its non-profit status into good standing with the state.
Crime Watch is on the scene to help with traffic, charities, the humane society, the Salvation Army, other cities and after storms.
Milhoan said when they drive by storm damage "if they say something we help, if not we move on. The police are happy we're there."
During football season there were windows broken in parking lots and Haskin said, "When we patrolled them it stopped."
Milhoan attended Salem High School, earned a GED, studied human resources at Kent State University and is a member of the county emergency response team.
Milhoan will work "to pretty much maintain what we've been doing and add a little here and there and let a lot of people know we're here."
Crime Watch is on Facebook as Salem Perry Township Crime Watch.