Neighborhood Watch Program
What is Neighborhood Watch?
In essence, Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program that stresses education and common sense. It teaches citizens how to help themselves by identifying and reporting suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. In addition, it provides citizens with the opportunity to make their neighborhoods safer and improve the quality of life. Neighborhood Watch groups typically focus on observation and awareness as a means of preventing crime and employ strategies that range from simply promoting social interaction and "watching out for each other" to active patrols by groups of citizens.
Most neighborhood crime prevention groups are organized around a block or a neighborhood and are started with assistance from a law enforcement agency. Volunteers who donate their time and resources are typically at the center of such programs since many do not have a formal budget or source of funding. One study (Garofalo and McLeod, 1988) found that most Neighborhood Watches were located in areas that contained high percentages of single-family homes, little or no commercial establishments, and residents who had lived at their current address for more than five years. This study also found that most of the programs used street signs to show the presence of the program to potentially deter any would-be criminals.
All Neighborhood Watches share one foundational idea: that bringing community members together to reestablish control of their neighborhoods promotes an increased quality of life and reduces the crime rate in that area. The reason for this effectiveness is rather simple: Involving community members in watch programs decreases opportunities for criminals to commit crime rather than attempting to change their behavior or motivation.
Today's Neighborhood Watch Program is an effective means of crime control and neighborhood cohesiveness. While not all of the programs in place today go by the same name, they all accomplish the same goal: to bring community members together to fight crime. As Minor aptly wrote, "Neighborhood is the key to maintaining successful relationships."
Starting and Maintaining a Neighborhood Watch
As is often the case, communities that need Neighborhood Watch programs the most are the ones that find it the hardest to keep them. This is particularly the case with lower-income neighborhoods. Typically, the adults in these neighborhoods work multiple jobs with odd hours, making it difficult to schedule meetings and organize events. This environment also makes it challenging for neighbors to get to know and care about one in a way that would encourage them to watch out for each other.
So what does it take to start and maintain an effective Neighborhood Watch Program? Visit www.usaonwatch.org for detailed information on how to begin a Neighborhood Watch, and how to maintain and expand Neighborhood Watches. Our department would be glad to help you begin this process! Please call 662-4322670-6037 for more information.