Assisting local law enforcement is the primary objective of the Greater Tehachapi Crime Watch, according to the group's secretary Aaron Mauldin.
"Our goal is to just encourage everybody to watch out for each other," Mauldin said.
At the group's most recent meeting on Aug. 7, Crime Watch president Nichole Wadkins, vice president Cara Hemme and Mauldin hosted a crowd of about 40 people at the VFW Hall. Speakers for the night included representatives from the Kern County Sheriffs Department Citizen Service Unit and coordinators from the Tehachapi Police Department Volunteers in Police Service.
"Part of the reason we organize these meetings is to figure out what the public needs and what we can accomplish," Mauldin said to the crowd. "More volunteers means more eyes and ears for these departments."
"Eyes and ears" was a consistent theme throughout the evening, emphasized not only by Crime Watch organizers, but also by CSU and VIPS officers.
Dave Goodman, who is also affiliated with Crime Watch, spoke out at the meeting.
"We need people to get involved, to make this things work," Goodman said. "We need some input from you folks to know what you are looking for."
Mauldin said the organization grew out of a small base of residents following other local "crime watch" websites. He said the topic of neighborhood watches arose between the frequenters, but none lived on the same block.
"So we wanted to see how we could do something for the whole area," Mauldin said. "We have a group that met to do the groundwork of talking to the Sheriff's Department and police department to develop contacts [to give crime watch tips to]. So if other people want to start a neighborhood watch, they wouldn't have to start from scratch."
Mauldin described interest in the group as "organic."
"Like the officers said, as soon as AB 109 passed, crime increased noticably everywhere in the state," he said. "Everybody has a vested interest in [local crime]."
Assembly Bill 109 is the "realignment" bill passed in 2011 that affected changes in how convicted felons are held or released.
Greater Tehachapi Crime Watch is in the process of being certified as a non-profit organization. Find the group at Facebook.com/TehachapiCrime or contact Mauldin at email@example.com or 661-412-2190.
The group meets the first Wednesday of every month and any residents from the greater Tehachapi area are welcome to attend. The next meeting is Sept. 4 from 6 until 7 p.m. at the VFW Hall, 221 W. Tehachapi Blvd.
"The Facebook group has really brought everybody together," Mauldin said. "We're all like each other's neighbors."