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Elvehjem’s Good Neighbor Project takes off

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MADISON (WKOW) -- After a string of violent crime and break-ins in the Elvehjem neighborhood last fall, the community was looking for solutions and one neighbor hoped a little more camaraderie could provide an answer.

Kim Richman started introducing the "Good Neighbor Project" to the area last fall, and after the shootout on Cottage Grove Rd., the plan took off.

"The group membership requests skyrocketed," he said.

Now the group has more than 600 members on Facebook and is scheduling regular meetings to learn how to spot and report crime in its community.

"I'm so impressed with the way the far east side has responded to this," Richman said.

Though according to the Good Neighbor Project philosophy, more important than looking out for crime is looking out for each other.

"You happen to see a garage door open, run across the street tell them your garage door's open," Richman said. "Have their phone numbers, you can text them."

The crime prevention strategy, in partnership with the Madison Police Department, recommends neighbors get to know at least the nine homes surrounding theirs. The idea is that if you know each other's routines, you'll know when something is out of the ordinary and who to warn.

"It's all bringing the community together," Richman said.

Richman got the group off the ground with the help of other Good Neighbor Project leaders like Joe Keyes.

With three years experience under his belt, Keyes said the most important part of the program is open communication.

"I think it gives people more information so they feel more comfortable," he said. "And if something's happening they can take precautions."

This week Richman said that communication was put to the test. The group shared and discussed a video showing potential car thieves going through the neighborhood checking for open vehicles.

After a neighbor's car was stolen last month, Richman said it was another warning sign, reminding neighbors to look out for each other. As the group continues to develop, he expects to see more and more warnings like this.

"People are getting to know each other, they're getting out of their comfort zones and that's how you build a project," he said.

With just two regular meetings under their belt, Richman said there's plenty of room to grow, though he said he's looking for quality members hoping to stay involved rather than a large turnout.

Each month, he said the neighborhood is looking to invite guest speakers like officers and community leaders depending on which issues are concerning neighbors.

This week, the neighborhood discussed how to spot and report drug crimes.

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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