Jim Thorpe officials are hoping that a new community program will help police catch criminals and keep the crime rate to a minimum.

Over the next few days, beginning this evening, residents in the borough can expect to find their neighbors, as well as police officers, delivering brochures explaining about the new Jim Thorpe Community Watch program. The program, which has been in the works for the last month, is designed to have residents serve as the eyes and ears of the police department.

Mayor Michael Sofranko said that the idea came out of the community meetings that were held earlier this year.

At that time, about 20 people signed up to volunteer their time and form the community watch.

"We took the residents' concerns into consideration when figuring out what to do," Sofranko said. "The Jim Thorpe Community Watch is a community outreach program. The police can't be everywhere, so we're hoping that if a criminal knows that people are watching, it will be a deterrent."

Police Chief Joseph Schatz added "it's a good program because we need more eyes and ears in the borough. This will be an asset to the Jim Thorpe Police Department."

Following the initial meetings, it was decided that the program would need a police liaison to be the community's contact. Officer Eric Schrantz stepped up to that post. Jamie Solomon, a resident of the borough, also volunteered to act as the group's secretary.

Once the group was formed, members met with attorney Jean Engler, who designed the trifold brochure about the program. Jim Thorpe National Bank then printed the brochures free of charge.

"The area businesses have reached out to help with this," Sofranko noted.

Residents can expect to find information in the brochure about the Jim Thorpe Community Watch program, including how to become a member and get involved and what information should be provided to help police when a crime is committed.

All information received via a tip line will be kept confidential.

Officials are urging residents to take the time to read through the brochure and attend the next meeting.

More information about the program will be posted on the Jim Thorpe Borough website at www.jtborough.org. Jim Thorpe police will also be posting arrest warrants on the website in the hopes of learning information about wanted individuals.

"We're grateful to the residents and to Officer Schrantz and Chief Schatz for getting involved," Sofranko said, adding that the program is a volunteer-based program.

"They care about the community and I'm thankful that they stepped up to the plate."

The Jim Thorpe Community Watch group meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the borough conference room, 101 E. 10th St., Jim Thorpe.

In addition to the community watch program, Sofranko explained that a training session has been created by Schrantz that would teach residents to direct traffic.

He said that with all the parades and other events that require traffic direction, the police can't handle everything.

Persons interested in volunteering to become a traffic director can contact the Jim Thorpe police at (570) 325-4995.