LACLEDE COUNTY, Mo. There's been a significant drop in crime for one part of the Ozarks.
People in Laclede County are sleeping a bit easier at night thanks to the efforts of the community watch program.
Overall crime in the county is down nearly nine percent for the first half of this year compared to last year.
The biggest drop is the number of burglaries reported. Those cases are down by almost 27 percent.
"The number one thing that really has made a difference in our community, organizing people in neighborhoods to watch out for each other," said Sheriff David Millsap.
Only one a small area of Laclede County had a community or neighborhood watch program when Millsap first took office. He wanted to change that.
"The sheriff's office has bought into working with the community and the community has bought into working with us," he said.
We went on a ride along with Deputy Roger Sherrer to see how the program worked and if it in fact it is the reason why the county has less crime.
"We were actually seeing in different parts of the county, Sleeper included, were church break ins. People were breaking into churches, stealing things out of churches. You have to realize when it comes to property crime like that nobody is off limits," he said.
The program is really taking off in Sleeper.
"One thing about neighborhood watch, you're not going to solve crime one hundred percent but you're going to do your best to limit that," explained Sherrer.
He meets with program leaders each month. They are the eyes and ears for the sheriff's office.
"Me, investigating a break in is not going to catch the bad guy immediately. It's not going to get your stuff back immediately.
By doing a proactive style of policing, it's going to prevent that from ever happening. We've got a lot of good support here," he said.
We stopped off at the only store in town.
"It makes you feel more secure," said Elizabeth Moore.
She works at Sleeper Country Market.
"First time I met one of the community watch guys that drive around here he was really nice and he looks out after me at night a lot," she said.
Moore said the program gives her peace of mind.
"When you've got people coming in and checking on you, you feel safe," she said.
Millsap said, "It takes all of us to solve crime, not just the sheriff's office. It takes everybody."
The number of violent crimes has also dropped by 10 percent for the first half of this year compared to last year.
Anyone who isn't already involved with the community watch program can contact the sheriff's office to learn more.