Neighborhood watch group meeting in Conway Thursday

akelley@thesunnews.comFebruary 26, 2014 

Conway police hope improving relations with community members will lower crime rates in town.

The city is partnering with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the crime watch group in the Racepath area, said Lt. Selena Small.

A meeting of the group is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Whittemore Park Middle School, and it’s open to the public. Affected streets include Ward Circle, Hiland Avenue, Tin Top Alley, Taylor Square, Hemingway Street, Fladger Street, Racepath Avenue, Short Alley, Blount Street, Robin Road, Gasoline Alley, Brown Street, Dewitt Street and Tinkertown Avenue.

Last year, the city did a few crime walk throughs after two homicides occurred within 11 days, police said. Already this year, one homicide occurred in the neighborhood in January.

Joey Lee Pyatt Jr., 23, was shot in the area of Pitman Street and Woodward Drive. Pyatt died at Conway Medical Center. Barry Dewitt Bethea, 21, of Conway, is charged with murder in connection with Pyatt’s death.

A crime watch in the area initially was created about six years ago by Diane Davis, who lives on Hemingway Street. She said it grew to about 75 people, but the numbers last year were as few as seven dedicated people.

Davis hopes crime in the area can stop if the community joins together against it.

Small said the goal for Conway police is to create a partnership with the community and share information.

It’s a community policing technique that’s been successful in Myrtle Beach, said crime prevention officer Pete Woods.

“Across the whole spectrum of income levels, it’s been successful,” he said. “The awareness created by the watch groups has even lowered crime in areas that don’t have meetings.”

One neighborhood that has seen improvement in Myrtle Beach is Monticello Park Apartments off Osceola Street.

“Monticello had some problems,” Woods said. “Those meetings are well attended and crime numbers have gone down.”

Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.

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