OSWEGO, NY – Harborfest weekend was pretty much a regular weekend for a small group of eastside guardians. They did, however, have to duck a barrage of bottles.
“We are celebrating our second year watching over our neighborhood and reporting suspicious and criminal activity,” said Bill Robinson, East Side Watch coordinator. “We are also looking for individuals who live in the area bordering between the fort and East 12th Street (west to east) and between the lakefront and East Seneca Street (north to south) to join us.”
The group regularly patrols the area between Fort Ontario and East 12th Street and puts special focus on the northern most areas; the empty lots around East Ninth, East 10th 1/2 and East 12th streets, Robinson explained.
They have a good reputation with the Oswego Police Department and Border Patrol as well as reporting to CSX Police with any problems on their property, he added.
“We have had great success in combating crime in our neighborhood,” he said. “We are VERY careful not to approach or interfere with any and all (suspected) criminal activity or arrest.”
The East Side Watch isn’t affiliated with Betty Gray’s Oswego Community Neighborhood Watch, “even though I have consulted with her,” Robinson said.
“I started a well-known watch group in Syracuse that, to date, is the largest and most effective one on the Northside. I moved to Oswego and helped Betty. But her ideals and mine didn’t mix. For example, she has no patrol groups nor support but a lot of complaints,” he said.
His area has seen a decrease in crime due to the patrols, he said.
To the group’s credit, according to Robinson, they have had a hand in stopping two burglaries, catching three individuals, several drug related seizures and investigating the theft of CSX equipment and supplies including spikes and tools.
“It all started with just me. And now, we have three members and many looking to join,” he said. “Although we are not affiliated with the local neighborhood watch, we have had great success in combating crime in our neighborhood.”
They are armed only with flashlights and cell phones and, “are VERY careful not to approach or interfere with any and all suspected criminal activity or arrest,” he stressed.
They conduct their walks usually late at night or early in the morning.
Last Thursday, the start of Harborfest weekend, was pretty quiet with one call to police regarding “a wild party on the lakeshore,” he said.
According to a couple entries in their log book on Friday, they caught three youth on the CSX line shortly after 10:30 p.m. allegedly smoking marijuana. A little while later they came across a couple having sex near the fort baseball fields.
On Saturday, they found four girls drinking “Four Loko” around 11 p.m. Shortly afetr, there were fireworks (not the Harborfest variety), and then, just before midnight, the same four were observedlooking into cars on East 11th Street, Robinson said.
On Sunday night they notified police of a prescription bottle with several pills in it on the CSX line. They were later determined by OPD to be Hydrocodone, Robinson noted.
Just after 11 p.m., while walking along the CSX line, some kids up on the fort grounds threw bottles at the group, Robinson said.
“All in all, it was a pretty quiet weekend,” he quipped.
If anyone is interested in joining, contact Robinson at 342-6750.