Community Cleanup Aims To Cut Crime In Upstate County - WSPA.com

Community Cleanup Aims To Cut Crime In Upstate County

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LAURENS, S.C. -

After living in the same neighborhood for fifty years, Matthew Weathers says things were bound to change.  "When I was little, we didn't have to lock the doors at night," he remembers.  Now, he says his Wattsville neighborhood in Laurens County is not the same.  "The neighborhood is so bad now, it's hard to go out on the streets, especially at night," he says.

Take a walk through Wattsville, and you'll see graffiti covering everything from stop signs to buildings.  Litter lines the sides of the streets as well.  Sheriff Ricky Chastain says it's scenes like those that attract criminals to the area.  Deputies receive a high number of calls to Wattsville.  Since January, they've received nearly two dozen reports of burglaries and vandalisms.  "If I were a criminal and I went to that neighborhood, a lightbulb would go off that this is a place I might want to set up shop," says Sheriff Chastain.

It's why the Sheriff's Office, along with a host of community partners, is launching an initiative called "One Community At A Time."  Starting with Wattsville, the idea is to get residents involved and put pride back in the community.  They'll begin with a community cleanup day and block party, set for June 8th.  "We really think it will make a difference," says Chastain.

Similar efforts have proven successful elsewhere.  Take Greenville's Nicholtown or West Greenville neighborhoods, for example.  Both have undergone massive revitalization and cleanup efforts over the last decade.  Police there say such efforts have cut calls to the area and reduced crime.  "When you have those community projects, those revitalization efforts, those people have a sense of involvement," says Sgt. Jason Rampey with Greenville Police.  "They work with the police department and it ultimately makes the neighborhood much safer and our jobs much easier."

Matthew Weathers is hoping the same thing happens to Wattsville.  He says this new initiative is a start.  "It could really clean up the neighborhood."

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