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City officials meet with Neighborhood Watch groups

Several Neighborhood Watch groups met with city representatives Tuesday and had the opportunity to ask questions from the represented agencies.

Tables were set up with information on the police department's Gang Unit, the Citizens Police Academy, the Domestic Violence Information Center at Fort Sill, the police department's Sentinels, the Drug Unit, the state Department of Human Services, Traffic Patrol and Crime Stoppers.

Lawton Police Department Chief James Smith told the crowd of about 100 people that he was "happy and excited about the outreach of the community."

"Locking people up does not fix the problem of crime," he said. "Crime is not only a police problem, but a community problem. I am proud that we now have 184 officers on the force and we just started another police academy. I am also proud that we have as many community watch programs as we do in Lawton."

"We try to correct behavior, not lock people up," said Josh Leach, Neighborhood Services supervisor for the City of Lawton. My job is to help people get connected to resources they may need."

Cliff Hagenmiller, the city's street and and traffic superintendent, told the crowd that "My resources only allow me to do so much. We can all agree that the streets need a lot of work. Some Neighborhood Watch signs are so faded they are not readable, so we're replacing a lot of them."

Assistant City Manager Bart Hadley took his turn at the podium and talked about the property tax that Lawtonians will be asked to approve next week to fund street improvements.

The Lawton Constitution

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