CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you're in uptown Charlotte and hear the shrill sound of a whistle, you might want to call 911. A program in Center City's Fourth Ward is growing and it has everything to do with fighting crime.
"We have a neighborhood feel within steps of Center City," said Chris Connelly, who lives near Fourth Ward Park where a spring evening feels like a reunion. There are people walking home from work, walking their dogs and working out.
"Our neighborhood is very safety focused. People really watch out for each other," he said.
Connelly chairs the Public Safety Committee for Friends of Fourth Ward, a neighborhood association with hundreds of active members.
"Our Whistle Stop program was inspired by one of our members who had lived in Chicago where she heard about it," he said.
Now, when neighbors here head out, they're asked to carry a small plastic whistle with them.
"If they hear something or see something that is alarming to them or if they feel like they're in trouble, they should blow the whistle," Connelly said.
"Well, it was something that was new to us," said Officer V.K. Simpson, who works closely with Fourth Ward neighbors. "If somebody sees something going on, why not make some noise and the whistle is the perfect thing for that."
But it only works if everyone gets involved and no one gets hurt.
"You don't have to directly get hands-on or try to foil the crime in progress or anything like that. We just want you to get involved by blowing the whistle and calling 911," said Simpson.
Connelly and the neighborhood association have handed out hundreds of whistles so far and he hopes to hand out more.
"We hope to order more. We hope everybody has one or two," he said.
We put our Crime Tracker to work in Fourth Ward. Within a quarter mile of Fourth Ward Park, car break-ins seem to be the biggest problem with seven in the last month. Non-aggravated assaults and other larcenies round out the top three. Those stats back up what Simpson sees out on his beat.
"Traditionally in First Ward and Fourth Ward no major crimes are happening in those neighborhoods. We find that the crimes that we deal with the most are property crimes -- cars being broken into and things of that nature," he said.
Simpson applauds the neighborhood association for taking an active role in fighting crime.
"The more people we get involved in the safety aspect of their neighborhood we find the crime the numbers go down if you can get the word out," Simpson said.
If you'd like to find out more about Whistle Stop, check out the Friends of Fourth Ward website at www.fofw.org.
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