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Murray's police department recruited, trained and activated a new patrol this week - all in about an hour.

Monday, residents living near 10 E. 6800 South formed the Lester Avenue Citizens' Patrol after attending a police-sponsored neighborhood watch meeting.Law enforcement officials say organizing a neighborhood watch program is like deputizing an entire community.

"We've seen crime drop as much as 60 percent in some areas after people decided to unite and form their own patrol," said Murray Police Sgt. Keith Huber. "Citizens become the eyes and ears of the police department, and it helps bring neighbors together."

Residents Heidi Bernstein and Jannalee Tobias decided to host a meeting after a Lester-area woman was assaulted and robbed in her home.

"The police told our friend there wasn't much they could do after the crime happened, so we wanted to do something to prevent an incident like this from happening again in our neighborhood," said Bernstein.

Murray Police suggested they organize a neighborhood watch.

The duo went door to door in their four-block subdivision, inviting neighbors to participate.

"Everyone we spoke to was interested and wanted to come to the training meeting because they were concerned about crime," said Tobias. "We didn't know some of the people we visited, so it was a good way to break the ice with our neighbors."

Bernstein's back yard doubled as a festive town meeting hall Monday. Kids played while folks of all ages listened to guitar music, sang, became acquainted with other residents and quizzed Huber about neighborhood crime pre-ven-tion.

Huber shared safety tips and admonished Lester Avenue's charter patrol to demand a crime-free neighborhood. Participants were also issued a "neighborhood watch" window sticker and provided an area map with a corresponding list of resident's names, phone numbers and addresses.

Patrol member Gladys Graham - a lifelong Murray resident - called the neighborhood watch program "a return to a time when neighbors watched out for one another."

"I care about the kids in this area, and I want them to live in a good neighborhood. I think our patrol can make a difference," she said.

Anyone interested in starting up a neighborhood watch program should contact their local police department.