Sometimes you have to be the change that you want to see. As a citizen, a neighbor, a parent, a resident, and a community member the more you reach out into your community and get involved, the better and safer your neighborhood will become. What is a great way to be involved? A neighborhood watch program.
Isn’t This What We Have Police Officers For?
Police officers can’t be everywhere. The more eyes and ears they have and the more communication that goes on among neighborhood residents, the better. That is why neighborhood watch programs are so successful: because there are at least concerned citizens in the neighborhood who care – who want to take a stand to keep their streets safe and alert the residents of any danger.
Where Do I Begin?
First, you need to organize a group of residents in your neighborhood and establish some goals and concerns about the criminal activity that may be going on. Only know a few neighbors? Try connecting with local associations like churches, synagogues, youth and senior groups, and civic organizations.
Next, schedule a meeting with your local law enforcement agency – if you want to have an effective neighborhood watch group, a good relationship and open communication lines are important with local law enforcement.
Once you do that, you can come up with plan of action to address the concerns of the neighborhood – focus first on the top three. USA on Watch has a great website with a publication library that will be useful for your group. Check out what they have to offer and work your plan around what you find. You can also register for their newsletter, which will keep you in the loop about other organizations.
Finally, register your group officially!
What Are Our Next Steps?
The following things are common in a neighborhood watch:
· Plan and attend meetings.
· Set up a phone tree with all members.
· Report suspicious and criminal activity.
· Look after residents when neighbors are away.
· Recruit new members.
· Work toward specific goals agreed upon by the group.
· Establish a media relationship.
· Set up a community patrol (citizens drive or walk through the neighborhood for monitoring)
You’re probably wondering, does all of this actually work? The answer is yes, it does. Research by the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a study of 18 different neighborhood watch programs and found that crime in these neighborhoods went down by 16%. It takes an engaged neighborhood – one that communicates and looks out for each other. So what are you waiting for? Join or begin a neighborhood watch today!
Register Your Watch Group in Five Easy Steps (USA on Watch)
Mobilizing a Community with a Neighborhood Watch Program (National Service Resources)
Does a Neighborhood Watch Reduce Crime? (C.O.P.S)