RAF MILDENHALL, England — As an Air Force cop, Tech. Sgt. Reginald Bailey has a professional aversion to crime.

But the enlisted member of the 100th Security Forces Squadron transferred that dislike into his private life. When he and his wife, Loretta, moved to a new housing development in Thetford two years ago, he created a crime prevention program for his neighborhood known as Home Watch, the British version of Neighborhood Watch.

For his effort, he was honored Wednesday as a Hidden Hero by Col. Richard Devereaux, the base commander. The base’s Hidden Hero program recognizes those who volunteer their efforts either on base or off.

“I had no idea,” said Bailey, who admitted he nearly choked up at the presentation.

Making it more special was a delegation of officials from Thetford, including the mayor, who felt the recognition was worthy of their presence.

“It gives you a great warmth toward people who are not only prepared to live with you, but to be part of you,” said Ray Key, mayor of the town of 22,000, including about 2,000 Americans.

Thetford is only a few miles from RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath. It is also the hometown of early American patriot Thomas Paine.

Bailey said he moved to a new housing development in June 2002 on his second tour in England.

“I didn’t take it for granted that because it was new it would be safe [from crime],” he said.

He contacted the local constabulary, which encouraged him to create a Home Watch program. About 40 people showed up at the first meeting, where Bailey was named coordinator.

Most Home Watch coordinators take charge of about a dozen homes, said Pauline Quadling, deputy mayoress. But Bailey, a 16-year veteran of the Air Force, now oversees hundreds.

“He’s really gone big time,” she said.

Bailey receives crime statistics from the local constabulary and distributes them throughout his area, which includes only a few Americans.

The residents have taken to the program and willingly look after neighbors’ homes during holidays or, in Bailey’s case, during a deployment. In doing so, the neighbors have become friends.

“It’s strengthened an already strong relationship,” said Bailey. “[It is] more like a family relationship.”

Derek Mortimer, a former mayor and now deputy mayor who represents Bailey’s neighborhood on the town council, said, “It’s wonderful that not only does Reggie live in the community, he works in the community.”

That doesn’t surprise Bailey’s immediate supervisor at the base. Senior Master Sgt. Eric Welsh, the squadron’s operations superintendent, said Bailey has “a heart the size of Texas.”

He only recently learned of his airman’s deed, which also doesn’t surprise him.

“Reggie’s kind of low key,” said Welsh. “He never boasts about his accomplishments.”

But the proof of any pudding, of course, is in the eating. In that case, Bailey’s efforts have been quite delicious.

“There’s been virtually no crime up there where we live,” he said.

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