City-Wide Watch Program Kicks Off Inaugural Meeting

By Linda Ong |

Published 03/15 2014 10:17PM

Updated 03/16 2014 09:24AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A city-wide watch organization called Springfield Guardians held its inaugural meeting on Saturday. The grassroots organization was created a week after the murder and abduction of 10-year-old Hailey Owens.

"I firmly believe there's power in numbers," said Cherise Carter, Executive Director of Springfield Guardians.

Twenty-two Springfield residents came together ready for change.

"We are a grassroots movement to make our city and neighborhoods a safer place to live," said Carter.

Carter said the program connects businesses, organizations, and schools to make the city a safer place for children.

"I'm just blown away by how fantastic Springfield has responded to this. It tells me that it's time- people are ready for change," she said. "They're aware that something needs to be done, we just need to bring it all together and get it going."

The organization will consist of educational awareness programs in conjunction with schools, and will allow children to spot a business to seek help if they feel in danger.

The logo will look like a diamond with the organization's logo. It will be plastered business doors to indicate a safe place for children to go. Those businesses can then alert law enforcement and the child's parents.

"We want them going home being safe with mom and dad," said Norman Lane, a local business owner in Springfield who has joined the organization.

Lane said he is determined to prevent child abductions in light of recent events.

"As parents and adults, we have to step up to the plate and say this is not going to happen on our watch anymore," he said. "We're going to put the odds back in our favor and the bad guys are going to be the loser on this end."

"We want every Springfieldian to be able to stand up and say I'm proud of where I live, we want to them take ownership in their community and take back their strength," said Carter.

Carter said the organization will begin to implement the diamond stickers as soon as next week. She also said business owners will have to go through background checks in order to be deemed one of the organization's safe locations for children.

Link to Springfield Guardians' Facebook

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