A new fleet of help for law enforcement has rolled out.

Their trucks are seen all over Onslow County already, but the drivers have become more aware of what’s going on around them.

ONWASA has joined the Community Watch program after Jeff Hudson, ONWASA CEO, found out just how often the trucks hit the pavement.

“I learned that our employees drive about a million miles a year,” Hudson said.

All of the employees work for the government and are vetted, including with a background check, before starting, he said. Adding to that the knowledge of what Hudson called the “enormous burden” of law enforcement to protect the community, he had an idea.

If the employees see something suspicious while driving around, Hudson said they could call it in. Help report crimes.

Hudson asked the Community Watch leader, Deputy John Ricker with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, to come speak with the ONWASA employees to explain what to look out for.

With a small staff in comparison to the amount of land that needs protecting, Ricker said it would be a huge help to the sheriff’s office to have ONWASA on board.

Currently, the sheriff’s office has eight people on patrol per shift, including one sergeant and one lieutenant, said Sheriff Hans Miller.

“(ONWASA employees) are everywhere, including places where a deputy hasn’t been in a while,” he said, adding that ONWASA has 121 employees.

Ricker went to ONWASA to do training for the employees, and now Hudson said if you see a truck, you know the person inside has been trained by the sheriff’s office to help keep your neighborhood safer.

For example, Hudson said, if a driver sees someone checking door handles in a parking lot, they can call it in. Ricker’s training helped show the ONWASA employees what to look for while they’re out and about.

“I don’t expect anyone to be a Rambo, but I expect (them) to pick up the phone and report something suspicious,” Hudson said. “It’s the least we can do while we’re out there doing our jobs.”

The ONWASA trucks will soon sport Community Watch stickers as well, Hudson said.

Hudson knew about the program from being in a neighborhood with a Community Watch set up, Ricker said.

His neighborhood is one of the now 100 set up around Onslow County.

Ricker said in neighborhoods with a Community Watch, there tends to be less crime. People see vigilant residents watching unknown cars or suspicious people, they notice the Community Watch sign, and they typically find somewhere else to go.

He still would like more neighborhoods on board in other areas of the county, but declined to say which areas he’d like to see them in, citing the need to not inform criminals.

Ricker said he hopes to bring other companies on board like ONWASA, including utility companies and the post office.

While Miller said he can’t get rid of crime completely, “Our vision is to reduce crime to a manageable level.”

For more information on setting up a Community Watch in your neighborhood, call Ricker at 910-989-4008.