Seth Williams hosts holiday safety forum in West Oak Lane

Some West Oak Lane residents gathered Tuesday at the District Attorney’s Office Northwest Community Action Center to hear tips about holiday safety. It was an informal meeting that afforded an estimated 25 attendees an opportunity to express their concerns to D.A. Seth Williams and some officers of the 35th District.

Williams said his aim, and that of the Ogontz Avenue outreach office which opened last year, was to foster better relations between police and residents.

“The goal is to break down the barriers that exist between the DA’s office and the community. One of the ways to do that is to have a presence in the community where we can shape, mold and design programming that the community wants,” Williams said. “We want people in the community to come here and meet the police in a situation other than an emergency, so that when there is an emergency, they might better know who to contact and who to rely on.”

Williams spoke about how to avoid mobile malware issues, online coupon scams, phony Facebook promotions and more. Crime Prevention Officer Jermaine Davis of the 35th District also shared information about common crime occurrences around the holidays.

“It really comes down to the simple things. Like when you’re using your GPS device, don’t put in your exact address, so a thief won’t know where you live,” Davis said. “If you’re going on vacation, cancel your mail so it won’t pile up; that’s a signal to a thief that you’re not at home. These really are common sense things that we don’t always think about during the busy holidays.”

Northwest Community Action Center director Theresa Marley echoed Williams’s sentiments.

“We did this as a way to share holiday tips that many people don’t think about during the holiday season,” she said. “We also want the community to know that this is a place where they can come to learn about crime, to report a crime, or to learn about crime prevention.”

Charlotte Caldwell, a West Oak Lane resident, has attended several events at the center.

“This center is excellent, it’s a part of our community and the staff is like family. I come here all the time. It’s a great place to come to when you need help with anything,” she said, noting that having it around makes her feel safer in the neighborhood.

Gerry Sizemore, who works with several other civic groups including the Northwest E.P.I.C. Stakeholders Group, agreed.

“Some people don’t feel safe with officers coming to their homes, so now they have access to them through this Center,” Sizemore said. “It’s just a good thing to have this in the community.”

A full list of the DA’s holiday safety tips is available via this link.

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