Neighborhood Watch Systems
One of your first
lines of defense should be some sort of neighborhood watch system.
Neighbors helping neighbors has always been a vital part of the
American way of life and community crime prevention is more important
neighborhood watch system is Sponsored by the National Sheriffs’
Association (NSA). The Neighborhood Watch System was developed as
a response to the many requests that came in from sheriffs and police
chiefs. They were basically trying to start a crime prevention program
that would include involvement from normal citizens in order to
combat the ever growing number of burglaries that have been occurring
in the United States.
If you don't
already have one in your area, you should consider starting some
type of neighborhood watch for your community. There are a few basic
steps that you can take in order to get started.
- Contact your
local police department in order to see if there is already a
neighborhood watch in your area. If not then they can help you
get started by offering you kits and general information about
the neighborhood watch system.
- Do some research
about the crime rates and crime history in your neighborhood.
You can check publicly available police reports and you can also
canvass your neighborhood and take an informal of survey of the
people who have lived there for awhile.
- Draw some
boundaries for your neighborhood watch program. Make a large map
of your neighborhood and include all the homes that you think
should be included in your area. You can always add or subtract
to the boundaries at a later time.
- Design an
invitation letter and make as many copies as you will need in
order to hand them out to all of the neighbors that you have included
in your area map.
- About two
weeks before your first planned meeting you should contact the
local police department in order to give them the date and place
so that if possible, a police officer could attend your first
neighborhood watch meeting.
- Go ahead and
start recruiting members. You can do this door to door or you
can just starting spreading the word. Get the teenagers involved.
You would maybe be surprised by how fast this type of news can
spread through a neighborhood.
- Your first
meeting should be help someplace that is convenient to the majority
of people in your neighborhood. You could use a community building,
local church or even someone's home.
- After your
first meeting, you and some other volunteers should make it a
point to get some of those flyers or any other literature that
you have printed out to the people who did not make it to the
meeting. The goal is to have more people at your second meeting
than you had at the first.
- Some members
of your neighborhood watch committee may be good at keeping an
eye on the happenings in your area. These are people who are generally
at home most of the time. They can focus on watching the area
and reporting any unusual activities in the neighborhood.
- When you meet
with members you should make sure that they understand that neighborhood
watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role
of the police. Neighborhood watch members should be observant,
caring and report what they see.
- Once your
group is up and running you will want to post neighborhood watch
signs around your community. Keep in mind that some areas require
you to have a minimum number of neighborhood watch participants
before you can post any signs.
- You should
establish a “telephone chain” by compiling and sending out a current
list of names, addresses and telephone numbers of the neighborhood
- You should
have neighborhood watch meetings at least once per year. Once
every six months would be even better.
watch programs simply make neighborhoods more safe. Statistics do
show that neighborhood watches are an effective crime prevention
tool. When you take the time to start a neighborhood watch program
in your community, members will naturally bond, stick together and
look out for one another. Organization is the key to making a successful
neighborhood watch program. You can't just set it up and forget
about it. You need to stay on top of things.
Keep in mind
that a neighborhood watch system is no substitute for police protection.
Nothing should be done that would put any of your members in danger.
If a member notices a problem, they should simply call the police.
This is why it is called a neighborhood WATCH program. The police
cannot be everywhere all of the time so you are merely providing
them with more 'eyes'.
actually need the eyes and ears of citizens like you and the members
in your neighborhood watch group. Normal citizens need to get involved
in order to take a bite out of crime. Home security systems cannot
guarantee total protection. Crime resistance is all you can really
achieve and by initiating a neighborhood watch in your community
you will be one step ahead of the bad guys.