After the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans signed on to help defend the nation against the bad guys. While most have retreated back to the quiet hum of their lives, Temecula resident Diana Serrano is still working to make the country safe.
“After Sept. 11, it really tore me up. It’s hard to describe the fear it put into me,” Serrano said.
Serrano marshaled that fear and responded when Temecula city officials called for volunteers to take part in Temecula Citizens Corps (TCC) in 2003.
“The city created the organization in response to President Bush’s call for (Americans) to be better prepared and more observant after the attacks,” Temecula Citizens Corps program administrator Serrano said.
The volunteer group helps equip residents with everything they need to protect their homes and families, including setting up Neighborhood Watch programs and offering CERT — Community Emergency Response Team — training.
According to Serrano, the CERT training is free and offers citizens the chance to learn CPR, First Aid, how to set up a triage unit and take part in a search and rescue operation, and the nature of the psychological impact of a disaster.
“We talk about how do we help the city and help ourselves in an emergency,” Serrano said.
Citizens’ biggest resource, as neighborhoods grapple with break-ins and other frightening breaches, is nearer than one would think.
“Open your front door and look at your neighbor and that’s your resource,” Serrano said.
Neighborhood Watch programs that involve engaged neighbors who are commited to communication and keeping their eyes open is key.
Serrano said there are approximately 50-60 active Neighborhood Watch programs in Temecula, with some of the more successful ones in the Wolf Creek area and Harveston.
Serrano said she knows they’ve been successful because of the crimes thwarted there.
“In Harveston, it was probably about three and a half years ago when residents complained about suspicious activity. Cars coming and going. Men parking on one street but then walking to another street,” Serrano said.
After a community meeting with police and some careful, quiet reports to law enforcement, a prostitution ring was busted.
Serrano said to residents: “Lay down the law of the land on your street.”
To learn more about the various free programs and training offered by Temecula Citizens Corps, visit www.cityoftemecula.org.
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.