After a series of break-ins over the summer, the town of Mount Vernon is organizing a neighborhood watch program with hopes of deterring criminals in the future.

According to Melissa Coger, the idea of a neighborhood watch was discussed after the public library had several video game consoles stolen and a local resident’s home was burglarized. Coger said two other buildings had been broken into and rummaged through, as well.

"We wanted to know what we could do," Coger said. "We don’t want somebody to think we’re a lawless town since we don’t have a police station. Criminals come through a small town like this and think they can get away with it."

Coger contacted Major Andy Shock with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office for information on starting the neighborhood watch. Members of the city council, Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office and residents held an organizational meeting Thursday night to get the program running.

"The meeting went very, very well," Shock said. "They have done an outstanding job getting this program together. It is by far one of the most organized programs I’ve worked with."

Coger said a number of residents were interested in volunteering for the watch, but the program could always use more.

"The more people we have, the better," Coger said.

The group, who will go on watches and patrol the area, will have shirts and car magnets, so they can be easily identified by residents.

Shock said volunteers should not get directly involved if they see a crime occuring, but should write down as much information as possible.

"We want them to be good witnesses," Shock said. "They should have a cell phone and a pencil and paper, so they can get the information to us."

Coger and Shock encouraged residents to attend the program’s next meeting, at 11 a.m. Sept. 18. Shock said members of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the White County Sheriff’s Office, will be present at the meeting.

For more information on the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Watch, contact Coger at 501-849-2825.

(Staff writer Stephanie Fischer can be reached by e-mail at stephanie.fischer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)