THE ABC's OF NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
- Any community resident can join -- young or old, single or married, renter or homeowner.
- A few concerned residents, a community organization, or a law enforcement agency can spearhead the effort to organize a Watch.
- Members learn how to make their homes more secure, watch out for each other and the neighborhood, and report activities that raise their suspicions to the police department.
- Watch groups are not vigilantes. They are extra eyes and ears for reporting crime and helping neighbors. Neighborhood Watch helps build pride and serves as a springboard for efforts that address community concerns such as recreation for youth, childcare, and affordable housing.
Most Neighborhood Associations have a Neighborhood Watch or crime prevention component. The most successful begin with an Association that works to improve and promote the neighborhood -- as well as fight crime.
Once you have several people interested in organizing, you:
- Hold a planned meeting.
- After initial organizational meetings, select a steering committee of five to seven members who are responsible for organizing meetings and events and relaying information to members. (The committee chooses officers, and in large areas assigns sections to block captains).
- Recruit members to be on a neighborhood directory, on committees, and on calling trees. Find ways to involve specific people on specific tasks.
- Decide on neighborhood boundaries. Be open to changes -- you are in the start-up stage.
- Name your neighborhood and involve members in this process.
- Once 80% of households have signed up and marked their property with an Operation ID number, Neighborhood Watch signs will be put up.
THINGS NEIGHBORS SHOULD WATCH FOR
- Someone screaming or shouting for help.
- Someone looking into windows and parked cars.
- Unusual noises.
- Property being taken out of closed businesses or houses where no one is home.
- Cars, vans, or truck moving slowly with no apparent destination or without lights.
- Anyone being forced into a vehicle.
- A stranger sitting in a car or stopping to talk to a child.
- Abandoned cars.
HOW TO REPORT AN INCIDENT
- Give your name and address.
- Briefly describe the event -- what happened, when, where, and who was involved.
- Describe the suspect: sex and race, age, height, weight, hair color, clothing, distinctive characteristics such as beard, mustache, scars, or accent.
- Describe the vehicle, if one was involved: color, make, model, year, license plate, and special features such as stickers, dents, or decals.
KEEPING A WATCH PROGRAM GOING
It's an unfortunate fact that when a neighborhood crime crisis goes away, so does enthusiasm for Neighborhood Watch. Work to keep your Watch group a vital force for community well-being.
- Organize regular meetings that focus on current issues such as drug abuse, "hate" or bias-motivated violence, crime in schools, childcare before and after school, recreational activities for your people, and victim services.
- Organize community patrols to walk around streets or apartment complexes and alert police to crime and suspicious activities and identify problems needing attention. People in cars with cellular phones or CB radios can patrol
- Adopt a park or school playground. Pick up litter, repair broken equipment, and paint over graffiti.
- Work with local building code officials to require dead bolt locks, smoke alarms, and other safety devices in new and existing homes and commercial buildings.
- Publish a newsletter that gives prevention tips and local crime news, recognizes residents of all ages who have "made a difference" and highlights community events.
- Don't forget social events that give neighbors a chance to know each other -- a block party, potluck dinner, volleyball or softball game, or picnic.