Since he spends 40 hours a week in prison, Manassas Park Mayor Wendall R. Hite knows more than he wants to about criminals. Hite, a Lorton Reformatory corrections officer, thinks many criminals could be stopped if citizens tipped off police.

"Citizens have got to stop looking the other way," Hite said. "They don't need to actually apprehend a criminal, but they can open up their eyes and ears and contact police when they see something suspicious."

With Hite's words in mind, the Manassas Park City Council last week passed a resolution supporting the organization of a neighborhood crime watch program called "The Eyes and Ears of the Law." The council encouraged the city's 6,900 residents to monitor activity in their neighborhoods, and noted that the city's 12-person police force is "limited" in patroling the 2.2-square-mile city.

"There hasn't been an increase in crime in Manassas Park, but I firmly believe that citizens can help cut down on minor crimes," Hite said. "I deal with these criminals every day, and citizens around many of them just watched them snatch a purse or break into someone's house. If people would just write down a license number or a description of a suspicious person and call police, they could come and investigate.