UPDATE: Bluffton Police Make Drug Bust Thanks to Neighborhood Wa - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Bluffton Community Forms Neighborhood Watch After Homicide Hits Close to Home

UPDATE: Bluffton Police Make Drug Bust Thanks to Neighborhood Watch

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UPDATE: After Bluffton residents formed a neighborhood watch group for their Buck Island Road community, a combination of tips and an added police presence have already made a difference. 

"We listen to the specific issues and the necessities that the neighborhood wants, and then we go from there," Officer Jake Higgins with the Neighborhood Services Unit of the Bluffton Police Department says. "We kind of strategically plan what we're going to do each day based off of that."

Building relationships within the community in order to positively impact the quality of life on Buck Island Road is his goal. After meeting with the neighborhood watch group to keep an eye on suspicious activity there, some crime has already been foiled. Higgins reports 24 grams of jelly hash, 10 grams of crack cocaine, .44 grams of powdered cocaine, and some 700 more in marijuana were taken in the latest drug bust. 

"It sent so much of a message, that the people from the community meeting, a couple were shouting at us from across the street, cheering us on," Higgins says.

That's exactly what Pastor Johnnie Brown, who is spearheading the watch group, hoped for

When a Lowcountry neighborhood became the scene of a murder investigation, the Buck Island Road community decided to stand together against crime so close to home. It was there that 70 year old Polly Ann Mitchell was found dead in her home. Police ruled it homicide. Now, neighbors say they're focusing on watching out for one another, by starting a neighborhood crime watch. 

Neighbors say their guard was down when the tragic homicide struck nearby in May. Police detained Jerry Lee Manigualt as a suspect in the case, but the community says no further violence will happen on their watch.

"It was shocking, almost to the point that it was unbelievable that something like this would happen, and so close to where we live," Johnnie Brown says. 

Brown is inviting those who live on Buck Island Road to stand against attacks like the one that happened to Mitchell, near his own home. 

"One of the family members ran over here, and said that they found her in the state that they found her in," Brown recalls. "This very unfortunate death happened, so, we're trying to get everything back close knitted," he says. 

He is trying to restore community togetherness, in a sense of looking out for each other. He says he was jarred by Mitchell's death. He now wants to promote awareness to crime that can target the area, as he spearheads the neighborhood watch group. Brown is hoping people will keep an eye out on suspicious activity, and report it to their community police officer immediately. He is also working with Bluffton police for more presence in the area.

"If in fact we see something suspicious, or we see anything that's out of the ordinary, that their response time would be quick," he hopes.

The group had its first information meeting over the weekend, and will have another to assign duties and appoint leaders in the future. 
"This message is for the predators who are trying to corrupt this area: we won't stand for it. Now, we are positioning ourselves to defend our community," Brown says. 

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