City to implement neighborhood watch program, smart phone app EVART \u2014 When given the task of lining up in order of age without speaking or using their hands, Evart community members saw how vitally important communication is to solving a problem. Around 50 citizens of the Evart area gathered at the Evart Depot on Thursday for the first meeting of the community\u2019s new Neighborhood Crime Watch program. \u201cThe point of the Neighborhood Watch is to get you to communicate with the people in the neighborhood that you may not have spoken to before,\u201d said Evart police officer Michelle Gebbon, who facilitated the meeting. \u201cWe\u2019re trying to break down barriers and create a neighborhood family.\u201d The Neighborhood Watch program will designate a block captain in each region of the city. Business owners and residents in each area will report suspicious activity to their block captain, who will then communicate with the police. Emergencies still will be reported directly to police. The program\u2019s goal is to decrease crime in the community by fostering relationships between business owners and community members. When individuals see things that may not typically be reported to police, it can be reported through the Neighborhood Watch program, and hopefully lead to stopping crimes before they are committed. \u201cWe want residents to know people in their community, so if a neighbor goes on vacation, they\u2019ll know what should or should not be going on at his house while he is away,\u201d Gebbon said at the meeting. To assist residents in communicating with police, the department unveiled a smartphone application through App Arrest, a company which provides smartphone applications to police departments around the country. The application offers residents the opportunity to submit a tip annonymously, report an abandoned vehicle, commend an officer, see where crimes have been committed and receive updates on wanted suspects in Evart. The department expects the app to aid in solving a crime by making reporting crime easier for residents. \u201cThe Evart community is so small and it\u2019s really important for them to get all the tips they can,\u201d said Phil Coraci, of App Arrest. \u201cThis is instantaneous.\u201d Evart resident Muriel Gorthy remembers a time in the 1970s when the Evart area had a successful Neighborhood Watch program. She has lived in Evart for 55 years and said neighbors would have block parties, look out for each other when they went on vacation and maintain a sense of community. Since then, the program lost momentum, but the need for such a project has remained. Last year Gorthy was the victim of vandalism. Thieves stole her garden gazing ball and it was found smashed at the end of her road. \u201cHopefully this will stop criminals from doing something like that again,\u201d Gorthy said. \u201cOr if they do try, they\u2019ll know there are people who will step up.\u201d The idea for reinstating the program began three years ago, and was discussed again during this year\u2019s National Night Out, a community party with the goal of fostering relationships between residents and law enforcement. With a recent stabbing in downtown Evart, and the closure of Dean Foods Liberty Dairy, EPS saw the increased need for the community to come together to protect their community. \u201cWe found out it was easier than we expected to get a neighborhood watch program going,\u201d said Evart Mayor Eric Schmidt. To be involved in the community\u2019s Neighborhood Watch program, individuals should attend a monthly meeting at least once in a six-month period. They also must not have a criminal record and are not able to carry a gun while watching the neighborhood. For more information on the program, call the Evart Police Department at (231) 734-5911.