Neighborhood Watch programs go by many names: Community Watch, Crime Watch, Building Watch. But whatever you call it, when neighbors organize to help the police watch over their community, it can make a significant impact on reducing crime and fear in your area.
An individual, community organization, or law enforcement agency can initiate a Neighborhood Watch program through a few simple steps:
- Hold a meeting to talk about crime problems and see if there is enough interest to organize a Watch.
- Arrange for local law enforcement professionals to train neighbors in home security, crime patterns, what to watch for and how to report it.
- Select an overall coordinator and block captains to organize volunteers and establish effective communications.
- Sign up volunteers, including homeowners and renters, business owners, the elderly, working parents, young people … anybody who can help.
Effective Neighborhood Watch Program Essentials
A typical Neighborhood Watch program requires:
- Regular meetings to keep your organization organized.
- Volunteers patrolling the neighborhood, on foot or in cars, to spot and report any problems.
- Regular communications, such as fliers, newsletters, or paper or electronic bulletin board messages.
- Special events to keep members interested and active, including helpful seminars, block parties, neighborhood clean-ups and tournaments.
- Special safety programs to meet your community’s unique needs, like a block parent program to help children during emergencies.
What A Neighborhood Watch Does
The typical Watch program involves four ways to make your neighborhood safer:
- Offers a service to mark valuable items with an identifying number to discourage theft and help the police track down stolen articles.
- Utilizes proven techniques to make homes safer.
- Organizes residents in watching over each other and the neighborhood, noting and reporting anything unusual or suspicious to the local authorities, including:
- Screams or calls for help.
- Someone looking into cars or homes.
- A stranger removing items from unoccupied homes or closed businesses.
- Vehicles cruising slowly or without lights.
- Anyone being forced into a vehicle.
- A stranger stopping to talk to a child.
- Calling 911 or other local emergency number to:
- Quickly explain what happened.
- Give your name and address.
- Describe the suspect’s gender and race, age, height, weight, hair color, clothes, and distinguishing features like facial hair, scars, accent.
- If a vehicle is involved, report the color, make, model, year, license plate and distinguishing features, like bumper stickers or dents.