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ST. CLOUD — Public safety leaders here are asking residents to take an active part of crime prevention with something many of them are already doing — taking the pooch for a walk around the neighborhood.

The St. Cloud Police Department is launching the Dog Walker Watch community engagement program to help people increase awareness of their surroundings and effectively report suspicious activity.

"While the police cannot be everywhere, the extra eyes and ears that residents provide to their neighborhoods while they are out walking their dogs can be super beneficial to a safer and more secure neighborhood and community," said Tad Hoeschen, police sergeant, in a release.

The kickoff for the program, which is part of the National Association of Town Watch organization, will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30 at the police station.

Throughout the yearlong program, participants will learn how to identify and report suspicious activity, tips for preventing crimes and burglaries, how to best use camera and alarm systems, and severe weather safety. Dogs are welcome at the kickoff event.