Baker Heights residents take back their neighborhood - - Jackson, MS

Baker Heights residents take back their neighborhood

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Residents of a south Jackson community were so fed up with the deteriorating condition of their neighborhood, they not only signed a petition to contact 3 On Your Side, they started knocking on doors.

The Baker Heights community is a text book example of how to take back your neighborhood. Don Coleman is vice president of the Baker Heights Neighborhood Watch organization.

"Basically, we just got tired of people literally kicking in front doors and going in taking whatever they wanted," stated Coleman.

When Coleman moved to what was then the Rebel Woods subdivision in south Jackson 27 years ago, there was little crime to speak of. But he said things began to change, and not in a good way.

"So, we got together, [me and] my wife, and we passed out flyers and we met at my house the first meeting and Jackson Police Department was there and they gave us a lot of tips on things that we could do to actually watch out for one another," explains Coleman.

Coleman says, five years ago, residents decided to change the name of the community to Baker Heights, since Baker Elementary school is located nearby. It was also a way to establish a since of pride, he said.

"So, when we started meeting and talking with one another, we felt a closeness and when you start feeling that closeness with an individual, you start caring about them and that's what we did," expresses Coleman.

Apparently, it is paying off.

"I don't exactly know what the reports are but crime actually has decreased," Coleman reveals.

He admits there are still problems, like break-ins, but Coleman said Jackson police are more responsive when they are called. The neighborhood has even established a Yard of the Month Club in the spring and summer. He says it would be easier to keep the neighborhood looking good if sites like an abandoned and stripped down house were dealt with. A burned out structure on 229 Shiloh Drive has been an eyesore since 2008.

Coleman said, "You don't have to accept this. You live here. You pay taxes. You don't have to accept living in fear. You can't do it by yourself; I mean it takes a village and that's basically what we did."

City of Jackson spokesperson Quita Bride says community improvement does have a case on 229 Shiloh Drive, but the city cannot move forward with cleanup until litigation is resolved. 

For more information about establishing a neighborhood watch group in your community, contact Jackson Police Department's community services division at 601-960-0495.

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