'Bright Eyes’ Recruited in Tampa

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Bright House Networks’ Tampa Bay division will work with local sheriffs’ offices to roll out a neighborhood-watch effort the division has dubbed “Operation Bright Eyes.”

In the first phase of the program, about 500 of the cable company’s technicians will receive crime-watch training.

Ultimately, 2,500 field employees will receive training from law-enforcement officials in seven local counties.

The goal is to train field employees to recognize suspicious behavior and to quickly report possible criminal activities to the appropriate authorities.

The initiative was announced just before the July 4 holiday by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Child Protection Investigation Division in Largo, Fla.

The effort might be in response to a report that local citizens continue to be concerned about crime in their neighborhoods, even though statistics show crime is dropping in the Tampa Bay area.

“Operation Bright Eyes really gives us the chance to take a proactive role in public safety and address a true community concern,” division president Kevin Hyman said in a statement. “We’re not asking our people to be vigilantes or put themselves in harm’s way. We’re merely deploying 500 extra sets of eyes and ears to help keep our neighborhoods and residents safe.”

The workers will be provided with a comprehensive list of emergency numbers to call. The division anticipates that all appropriate workers will receive training and join the program by year-end.

There is a growing trend in public-affairs initiatives by cable operators.

In May, Comcast Corp.’s operation in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, Md., and Washington, D.C., agreed to become an active part of the regional Amber Alert network. That system, designed to quickly provide information about missing or abducted children, will transmit key details directly to the cell phones of the region’s 800 field service personnel, who will use that information to watch out for the child and/or abductor.

And even without a formal program, field technicians have responded positively to emergencies, proving their value as eyes and ears in local neighborhoods.

Comcast field techs Ryan Thornhill and Todd Hickam were credited with saving the life of a 10-year-old in June in Des Moines, Wash., after they heard a woman crying for help there. The technicians retrieved the boy and resuscitated him before paramedics arrived.

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