If your neighbors are concerned about the collective safety of their street or block, then a neighborhood watch may be something you've considered. These days, there are many cities and towns which have their own official Neighborhood Watch programs, complete with several resources to help keep communities safe. Although every group may have different strategies to promote security, the premise is the same: to take an active role in these endeavors.
How Neighborhood Watches Help Prevent Crime
Although no community can rid itself of all criminal activity with a neighborhood watch, it can serve to greatly reduce crimes in an area. Many cities have drastically reduced their rates of crime while simultaneously building community camaraderie by instituting neighborhood watches.
Hanging signs throughout a neighborhood that a neighborhood watch is active is a big deterrent to criminals. Official law enforcement can be easy to spot, as they may be wearing uniforms or driving vehicles that don't look like any other on the road. But in a neighborhood watch, anyone could be keeping their eyes open for criminal activity, which could mean literally hundreds of pairs of eyes.
Reasons to Start a Neighborhood Watch
As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". In cooperating with others in your area and having the common goal of preventing crime, everyone can benefit.
Most often, a neighborhood watch is started in response to a rash of burglaries or other crime in an area. Instead of assuming the role of victim, members of the community vow to never have to go through a similar experience again; thus, a neighborhood watch is born.
Firefighters or law enforcement professionals are generally very open to assisting communities in the operations of a neighborhood watch. They might come and talk to a group, giving them tips on how they can make their watch more effective. Accessing these resources can increase the quality of living for every neighborhood resident.
Tips for Starting a Watch in Your Neighborhood
The first step to starting your own neighborhood watch is to visit the National Neighborhood Watch website - www.nnw.org. This web site is the virtual headquarters of the neighborhood watch movement, and contains a number of valuable resources.
Once the area to be watched has been figured out, it will be time to recruit volunteers. This can be done by holding a presentation that includes speakers from your local police department.
The presentation can include the following:
- Opportunity for residents to identify their concerns
- Discussion on the development of an action plan to reduce crime in your area
- Identification of crime prevention techniques and understanding how to properly report suspicious activity
If there is a technically-savvy person in your neighborhood, they may be able to create a web site or set up a social media group that can be used to communicate updates to those households in your watch group.
An area map should be developed which also shows the names, phone numbers and street number for each household in the area being watched.
With the many free resources and instructions available, starting a neighborhood watch in your area can not only be much easier than you think, but serve to benefit all who live in your area for the long term.