- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

DYERSBURG, Tenn. (AP) - A coalition that aims to prevent crimes in rural areas has formed in Dyer County.

Sheriff Jeff Box told the Dyersburg State Gazette (https://bit.ly/1fU2zO9) that he has partnered with farmers, agribusinesses, landowners and law enforcement in the West Tennessee community to form Dyer County Farm Watch. The initiative is similar to a neighborhood watch, but geared specifically for rural property owners.

“As we continued to work with older Neighborhood Watches and added new ones in other areas, I started noticing they began to help prevent crime in their neighborhoods, but there were still lots of vast farmland unprotected in these 536 square miles,” said Box. “Even though crime prevention in our neighborhoods was improving, farmers were still being victimized.”

Box says farmers deal with two main types of crime: theft and vandalism. A committee that has been named to oversee the program will network with the agriculture community, share information and seek funding through donations and grants.

“This will supplement the Farm Watch program and its participants with the best available crime-fighting technologies,” said committee member Randy Brooks, a retired agent for Dyer County Farm Bureau. “Enforcement alone is never the best method, which is why many Dyer County farmers are enthused about participating in the Farm Watch Program.”

Tennessee Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch says he believes the novel idea will reduce rural crimes and agreed that other counties could set up similar programs.

“Dyer County is building a model that can be replicated across the entire state,” Upchurch said.

Box recently presented the idea at a meeting of the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association and got a good response.

“Sheriff Box brought us a very innovative program to the table, and other sheriffs in rural areas are interested in it,” said Terry Ashe, the association’s director. “It’s in the early stages, but it is a workable plan and we certainly endorse his efforts. We think it helps deter scrap-metal thefts and will help the farmers and we are going to move forward with him on it.”


Information from: State Gazette, https://www.stategazette.com

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