The Story Behind Nation of Neighbors
Law enforcement professionals and experienced Neighborhood Watch coordinators will tell you that most people don't become actively involved in crime prevention until they become a victim. Then, after overcoming the initial shock, fear and feeling of helplessness, they become obsessed with preventing future crime in their communities and catching the perpetrators.
Art Hanson came home on a Sunday morning in October 2004 and found his family's house ransacked. Thieves had broken out a window and gone through everything. They stole computers, cell phones, cameras – even his son’s piggy bank. After calling the police and filing a report he posted a note on the local community bulletin board offering a reward and asking for information about the crime. Over the course of the next few days he discovered that his house was only one of many that had been recently broken into. In fact, there had been a rash of break-ins in the community that had started about 3 months prior. Each victim knew very little but, by working together with other community members, they were able to put all the little pieces together to tell a compelling story. The perpetrators were eventually caught and Art and his family, as well as a few of the other victims, recovered some of their property.
Art has remained obsessed with crime prevention and started first Watch Jefferson County, then Nation of Neighbors, in an effort to help other communities achieve the same success.
Ron Sikerica was in the process of designing an independent website to facilitate resident communication and interaction for his community’s Safety Patrol (Shannondale Safety Patrol) when Art contacted him to join the Watch Jefferson County effort.
Ron brings a breadth of both professional and personal experience to Nation of Neighbors. After serving as a Capt. in the U.S. Army, he earned his M.S. in counseling and has worked at a non-profit treatment center for children. He has also been an active member and participant in his community for the past 17 years.
The recognition of proliferating drug and alcohol use as major factors in causing or exacerbating treatment issues in children, along with the realization that most criminal activity was driven by the use of illicit drugs, led him to join the efforts of his community Safety Patrol in trying to make his community safer for residents - especially the younger ones. At the point when Ron joined the Safety Patrol, residential break-ins had surged to almost 100 incidents a year in his community of over 1300 homes. Most of the crimes were committed by chronic drug users or "career criminals" from outside the community.
As a leader of his community Safety Patrol for the past 12 years, he has focused on the integration of training as well as many safety and technology features, including their current communication system..