NW - CERT Welcome Letter 2020 -2021 edition
SUNSHINE NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
C.E.R.T. – COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM
Lenore Combs, Coordinator, LJCombs44@gmail.com, 956 245 1276
Dear Sunshine Residents,
Welcome to our community. This communication is a current edition. Our Neighborhood Watch aims to foster a strong and positive working relationship with the local Police Departments in Harlingen and Combes. “Take a Bite Out of Crime” All residents are the “eyes and ears” of SCCE. Lights On – Lock Up and Look Out for each other.
SCCE is the premier NW in our area. Each monthly meeting brings us together to address current concerns and crime prevention techniques. Sgt. Michael Brooks HPD is our liaison HPD recently revised our NW Guide. It is available in the Library. Topics we discuss are how to recognize and report suspicious activity, how to make your home more secure, how to identify your property (Operation ID) and more. This association in SCCE allows neighbors to get to know each other and their routines so that unusual activity can be reported and investigated. (REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY 956 216 5940)
Neighborhood Watch groups are NOT vigilante forces working outside the normal procedures of law enforcement. We REPORT and OBSERVE. We are not a program designed for residents to take a personal risk to prevent crime. A NW cannot guarantee 100% that crime will not occur in Sunshine but we can make life miserable for the Bad Guys. They are experts in crimes of opportunity.
The various NW projects below are illustrated. Job descriptions are included. Contact me if you wish to serve or have questions. Orientation is always available. Sunshine CC Estates is a premier active Neighborhood Watch program in Harlingen and you are cordially invited and encouraged to assist us.
Sunshine’s volunteer service begun after Hurricane Dolly in July 2008. We meet the 3rd Monday of the month at 3pm in Retzlaff Hall. We have no dues and the Coffee is always on. Our famous Cookie Bakers do a dozen. We discuss security issues and most meetings have a training session presented by the Police or Fire Department etc. We have CPR training complete with an AED trainer and Stop The Bleed classes.
There is a Neighborhood Watch display in the Library with a Patrol calendar and up-to-date notices. Please visit. “Inside Sunshine”, a monthly newsletter will have an article but if there is an alert, it will go out on the NW email contact. If you wish to be on the email list, send me an email request and it’s done.
PROJECTS: Sunshine NW is involved and we welcome your input and we welcome you to join a project. We have 306 homes in Sunshine. If a resident from each home gave a day's service..... wow! We will work around your schedule. You will be thoroughly oriented. We will make you feel welcome, train you and provide you with almost unlimited opportunities.
Evening Patrols: Lenore 956 245 1276 A schedule is prepared by Linda Jones each month with volunteers who sign up for an evening patrol. Hours are available and orientation is a must. “Patrols” is the heart of the program. Bob Saylor or I can arrange to take you on an “area-fam” – patrol routine. You will learn some very interesting stuff about security. We have a dedicated NW Golf Cart . Check it out! We encourage 2 volunteers to patrol as one drives the Golf Cart and the other can take notes, call in suspicious activity etc. Safety is first and your job is to observe and report. No weapons allowed.
Daytime Patrols: Are similar and you do need an orientation as well. There are no schedules. These patrols can be done on foot, bicycle, golf cart (NW or personal) or vehicle. We still encourage teams but getting the mail or walking the dog is a good example. The Bad Guys don’t know any different – except you are our eyes and ears.
Vendor Patrols: Lenore usually patrols every morning. Residents are cordially invited to also do this do easily while walking around or driving. These are random patrols that are done regularly as we are looking for the Vendor “hanging tag” in the vehicle – or the “Orange card” as the case may be. This could help prevent a robbery in plain sight. Residents are strongly encouraged to have their contractor stop by the Office register with Valerie. Any resident can call me or inquire at the Office.
We have a bright Orange Vest complete with reflective stripes. Even if you walk the dog, get the mail or whatever, wearing your vest gives the idea the “Eyes of Sunshine Are Upon Them” - workers, contractors, laborers, seedy visitors included.
Oh, don't forget we do have some K-9 patrols too. They are part of the Team and enjoy the ride as well.
Block Captains and Co-Captains: These special volunteers make the NW tick. All nine streets should have a volunteer Block Captain as a point of contact. The Co- Captains are those volunteers who are next door to four or six homes – just keeping an eye out. This is simply for communication. This key person is an integral component in keeping the block – the street actively informed - from crime prevention efforts to exchange of information. The NW can flourish or dwindle. These suggestions are not all inclusive. Develop a comms system to distribute vital info to your neighbors. Facilitate the unity. Get new residents involved. Obtain their support. Rekindle older connections of residents who have gotten away from the mission. Remind your street of an upcoming meeting. Block captains and Co-Captains are the glue.
Operation ID: We work on this project with the Harlingen PD. Complete a form with your stuff – make, model and serial number etc., and then arrange to get them engraved with your ID number on it. We will give you the recognizable decal for your door. It is good for your insurance Company.
9-1-1 Helpers: These volunteers assist you at any hour of the day, noon or night. For example, if you are contemplating notifying 911 because of an emergency, a volunteer or two can go to your home and stay with you while you call and/or they can go to the gate and watch for the EMTs to get here. (Once you call 911, you are on the phone til help arrives. Having a 9-1-1 Helper is handy).
Be-A-Buddy: This project is encouraged and is a more personal choice. For example, I may ask my good friend to be my Buddy and I have their phone number posted on my fridge. This way, if I am contemplating a
(? health) concern, they could assist with notifying EMTs and the 9-1-1 Helpers.
FYI: There is a red flashing rotating light for the EMTs attached to the front gate. It has to be manually turned on. It aids the EMTs in finding Sunshine as opposed to looking for us in Encore. This little light is visible down past the corner of Gayle Street towards the gas station.
Our Front gate is also fitted with an S.O.S. alarm which allows Police, Fire and EMS to enter without having to input a code. (installed 2018)
(Life Alert Systems – several residents have one of these. We do not endorse any particular brand. If you are interested, contact me for info.
Sunshine Emergency Contact Information form: We all completed this when we moved in. Keeping it current is the operative word. They are retained in the Office in a cabinet. Old and outdated phone numbers are no help in contacting you.
Sunshine Disaster Preparedness Team: Each April, residents are invited to participate in this dedicated meeting regarding Hurricane Preparedness. However, in March, the Women’s Club encourages residents to prepare their homes, update SEPO Emergency form, store lawn objects that could become loose in a storm or flooding and clear Utility pads and poles.
Worry Box: These are index cards the CERT Readiness Team uses in case of..... For example, several residents lost their meds during Hurricane Dolly because the power went out and these meds should have been kept cool. Some residents have Oxygen condensers. They need power. So this is a “fluid” Worry Box that any resident may voluntarily give their info when there is an impending concern. We also have a plat of the community that is available to LE and EMTs in case of..... For example, Kathy Wunderlich CERT Team helped provide a working list of summer residents.
2-1-1 Helpers: also known as STEAR – State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry. Cameron County Registry for Mandatory Evacuation: This project gets activated by the Governor. Residents may also register on line. Our philosophy and best bet is to get “Out Of Dodge” as this county program is for those who really need it. However, it is available. Registration does not guarantee evacuation transportation and your info will be kept in the system for a year.
Vial Of L.I.F.E. Health History - SCCE RED Envelope (Humans & Pets)
This recognized program is available to you. There are 2 red decals, a brief health history form and a baggie. You put one red decal visibly on your door or window for the EMTs – Rescue folks to see and the other red decal is on the baggie which has your current completed health history form in it. This baggie is in or on your fridge – in plain sight! We ask a small donation to the NW for the baggie, 2 red ID decals and 2 health forms. There are forms available as you should keep them current. Keep them in your car or RV too.
Readiness Team: This committee drew up an Emergency Plan after Hurricane Dolly. We update/revise it annually as necessary. Whether you are a Winter Texan or not, your input is valuable and you are invited to help us. We meet for the April meeting to stay current and make revisions.
Stop The Bleed: In 2019 Sunshine placed 3 “Stop The Bleed” bags in the Library, Woodshop and Worker’s shed. They are not ordinary First Aid Kits but contain special gear for life threatening bleeding. See Lenore & John for a brief class.
C.E.R.T. Team: These are Sunshine residents who have completed special training and meet monthly at the Fire Department for information and education. They are knowledgeable in First Aid, CPR, AED, light search & rescue etc. There is usually an annual class offered for CERT training at the Fire Department.
Citizen’s Police Academy - at the Harlingen PD. Classes offered twice yearly. Learn about Police procedures and activities. (Criminal Law, Traffic Law, Use of Force, Family Violence, Juvenile Procedures, Handgun Quals, Narcotics, K-9, Baton/OC, SWAT, etc. Sgt. Sal Carmona and Commander Dave Osborne are highly qualified Peace Officers with many talents. They keep the class moving and their guest speakers are well informed. The Chief meets with the class several times as well – proves its worth. This is a class you won’t regret. Last but not least, Sgt. Michael Brooks and Officer Alicia Garcia are the CPA liaisons . They cannot be more supportive and this organization is on the move!
Safety & Security measures: Several talented members have good information on these various items. Come to a meeting and see.
Vehicle Decals: This square orange reflective decal is on our vehicles (rear window- upper corner – driver side) so we know this vehicle belongs to Sunshine. If someone is in here without one, they may be visited by an inquiring resident. (For example - If you see someone waiting at the gate to come in, and they don't have one - one would wonder WHY? - We suggest you discretely follow them to their intended location. Observe & Report! If they look suspicious – call the 956 216 5940 “ number to report suspicious activity” or 911 if you think it is an emergency. Try to have details for the Police such as a description, the plate and make, model, color etc. If they leave is a big hurry, try to notice which way they headed. Do not attempt to apprehend. We don't want you to get hurt and we have no law enforcement authority. If you think there are weapons involved report it.
Refrigerator magnets: report suspicious activity – 956 216 5940. These are business card size magnets. They are free, compliments of the Woman’s Club. This number is answered by a person 24 x 7 from the Police Department Dispatcher on Loop 499.
When reporting, we ask you have some details put together such as:
Who What Where When How
For instance - boy girl, - fat skinny, - old young, hair style, facial hair, etc., color of clothing, (gangs use colors) – make & model, plate of vehicle, any markings like convertible, SUV, pick-up, any drugs - what were they doing, - where they going. It helps! Weapons make a big difference and it is most important for the Police to know as it will upgrade the priority status..
Amber Security Lights on Golf Carts: If you buy a cigarette lighter receptacle for your Golf cart Bob Saylor and some helpers will install it. Then you can outfit your Golf Cart with a security light for patrol. A kind and generous resident donated several of these for us.
Vendor Tags – these VENDOR tags hang from the rear view mirror. Residents are encouraged to contact the NW when a vendor comes to do work at your house. We have had several successful scammers in the community. These hanging tags are also issued to residents that may have day and/or night time care givers. The resident may also get them a clicker and assumes this responsibility.
Interestingly enough – neighbors are becoming very aware of orange decals and Vendor tags – and they look into it. Also, we have a VISITOR tag which is (TEMPORARY)– if you need it for extended company.
Gate Codes & Key Pads & Clickers:
Occasionally we change the Front Gate Code. It will not affect your Clickers. Call me 956 245 1276 or the Office for concerns.
Storage Lot: for entry (use your gate opener)
Cameras: are located throughout the community. There is an Infra-red Sensaphone System in the Storage Lot. We can always use help in looking after them. It is short, sporadic work. Orientation and mentoring is available.
Generators: Courtesy of Mark & Debbie Warner – we have our own NW-CERT generator. Several kind and generous residents also make their generators available in case of….. This usually is discovered at our annual Disaster Planning meeting in April. In fact this one was donated to us.
Security begins at your house. We are living in a new normalcy and the burden is on you so Lights On - Lock Up and Look Out for each other. If you see something – say something! Timely communication is of utmost importance!
Don't forget our monthly meetings (3rd Monday at 3pm) in Retzlaff Hall.
Visit the NW – CERT display in the Lounge. Postings are kept current. Contact me if you want to get our email. LJCombs44@gmail.com
The Sunshine Neighborhood Watch is a volunteer group that was established with the help and guidance of the HPD to take a bite out of crime. We do not have police powers. We alert police when encountering strange activity. We never should confront suspicious persons. Duty: Observe & Report. Tools of the trade – pencil, note paper and cell phone.
LIGHTS ON – LOCK UP AND LOOK OUT for each other
Important phone numbers:
For emergencies – 9-1-1
Harlingen Police Department – to report suspicious activity: 956 216 5940
Combes Police Department – 956 425 7131 (21626 Hand Road).
We also so have a partnership with the Cameron County Constable Office – PCT. 5 Eddie Solis.
Other stuff: The Harlingen Police Department is squarely behind us and touts us as being a model community and uses our Neighborhood Watch as an example. Most meetings, Sgt. Michael Brooks joins us with a training session. Oftentimes he is accompanied with another Officer assigned to our district.
The National Sheriff's Association and the Harlingen Police Department both have manuals that we use as resources. Training is key to our NW projects and there is a thorough orientation to each one. In keeping with training, Sunshine boasts many CPA members and many C.E.R.T. Team members. Sunshine can certainly hold down the fort in an emergency until professional help arrives. We attend regular meetings at the Police Station and/or Fire House.
The Citizens Police Academy is a 40 hour course held at the Harlingen PD. CERT is the Community Emergency Response Team involving a 20 hour course held at the Harlingen Fire Department. Training and drills are ongoing. We participated in a mock disaster for the Texas State Guard. In October 2014, Sunshine was the site for a local Train-The-Trainer course. We stationed a mock disaster drill and many of the Sunshine residents acted as victims. Details are under separate cover. Suffice it to say, Sunshine is empowered by these lessons learned and we give back to the community. Conversely, we enjoy a valuable partnership with both the Police and the Fire Departments. Many members attend these meetings and we volunteer for their special projects too.
Chief Darrell Loftus, Harlingen Fire Department was our initial CERT Instructor, occasionally attends our meetings and does a Fire Safety presentation. Several times he has brought Fire Fighter instructors-in-training to Sunshine and discussed their projects. At any rate, we always have informative meetings.