The primary job of the neighborhood watch is to report crime to aid police officers in their duties. Watchers are not vigilantes and should never assume the roles of police officers, but their indirect involvement in crime prevention doesn’t make them any less effective. The presence of people intent on making their homes safer is a deterrent for criminals everywhere. Here are five easy steps to starting your own neighborhood watch program.
Recruit Neighborhood Residents
Recruiting friends and neighbors to participate is the most important task. One person can’t watch everything all the time; the more people involved, the more effective the watch will be. When you’re recruiting, face-to-face conversations will yield better results than sticking leaflets in doors or leaving a voicemail. Drumming up support and excitement about the new group will help guarantee its success.
Schedule a Meeting with Local Police
A close relationship with law enforcement will help things run smoothly. Let the police know about the formation of the new group and its intentions. Have an officer come to the first meeting to speak to the group. During the meeting, the officer should provide some basic training so that no one ends up breaking the law and advise the team on how to effectively patrol the neighborhood. Police should continue to communicate with the group coordinator to give updates on crime patterns and training techniques.
Discuss Your Concerns
At the initial meeting, give everyone in attendance an opportunity to talk about what they’re seeing in the neighborhood. Giving members a voice will help engage and energize everyone to participate beyond one meeting. Once people have expressed their concerns, the group can go about creating solutions to solve them.
Develop a Communication Plan
Decide on the best way to share information amongst the group and with the police. Most people have cell phones and can call 911 for emergencies, but should the people on street patrol call the head of the group? Should you start a group text or chat, or are one-on-one calls best? Who’s responsible for being the liaison with police? An easy, efficient flow of information is key to the group’s success.
Once the neighborhood has come together to protect other residents and their property, it’s time to hit the streets. Use the initial excitement and energy of the group to keep it going. Always schedule regular meetings, don’t forget to appoint group leaders, and keep the police involved to make sure that the people, as well as the neighborhood, stay safe.
GET ALERTS on Facebook.com/CardinalEmergencies
GET ALERTS on Facebook.com/ArlingtonCardinal
Stay informed with news from PublicSafetyReporter.com’s Emergencies Behind the Scenes Facebook page — Facebook.com/CardinalEmergencies.