Earlier this month, NewsChannel 3 first brought you the story of a man patrolling his Beach neighborhood without the sanction of the official neighborhood watch program.
Some neighbors were alarmed to learn he was carrying a gun, but now other neighbors have rallied to make him their official neighborhood watchman.
What started out as a neighborhood un-nerved has transformed into a couple of warm neighborly embraces
“I’m just glad we have someone like Manny,” says Carl Wright, a Holland Farms resident.
“I’m not afraid of him. He makes me really feel safe,” says Melvis Carter, another resident.
Roll back the clock a couple of weeks ago: some neighbors in Holland Farms didn’t know each other well and were frightened by Manny Ruiz, who was patrolling while carrying a concealed weapon.
Police told those neighbors there was no active neighborhood watch program, which made them all the more suspicious of Manny. But the neighbors who know him took action and helped him get the signatures to re-activate the program.
“I want to thank the neighborhood for sticking together as a team and everybody supported me and we was like a family,” says Manny.
Neighborhood watch means just that–watch. Virginia Beach police ask watch participants to observe and report, not walk a beat.
“We don’t encourage people to go out and patrol per se, but we just ask they look out for suspicious activity and suspicious individuals,” says Leta Krieger of the Virginia Beach Police department.
It turned out to be a learning moment for neighbors who, until now, had not been actively involved. They’ve learned to walk the walk.
“And we got to know our neighbors, and that was wonderful because before, we didn’t know each one,” says Stephanie McCain, a resident of Holland Farms.
“You’re not a police officer or a vigilante or anything; you are just looking out for your neighbor which we all should be willing to do,” says Wright.
And for neighbors who were uneasy about Manny’s legally concealed weapon permit, his son offered another perspective.
“He has the best judgment than anyone I know, so for him to have a gun, I say I’d rather him have a gun than for anybody else to have a gun.”
Virginia Beach police are urging all participants in neighborhood watch programs to take this example as an opportunity to update their roster and to check their status to make sure their program stays current and certified.