Neighborhood watch protecting your community
The Neighborhood Watch program was started in 1972 by the National Sheriff's Association in response to an increase in residential crime. The foundation of Neighborhood Watch is community, with members of a neighborhood working together to make their neighborhood a safer place. Neighborhood community members also work with law enforcement in a combined force against crime.
Neighborhood Watch Benefits
Neighborhoods that institute a Neighborhood Watch in their community can enjoy a variety of benefits. Not only will the level of crime in a neighborhood go down, but community residents usually enjoy better quality of living in the neighborhood thanks to the increased safety. A Neighborhood Watch group also enables a faster response if a serious event occurs, such as a terrorist attack. Neighborhoods usually develop a stronger sense of community and pride in their neighborhood from working together to make it safer. The sense of personal satisfaction from making a difference in their community can motivate group members to continue working to make the neighborhood a better place to live. Law enforcement also benefits from Neighborhood Watch because it lightens their workload to patrol a community.
How Neighborhood Watch Works
Many Neighborhood Watch groups operate by designating block captains within the neighborhood. These captains typically serve over a group of between 10 and 15 houses to work with homeowners in the group, supervise the area, report concerns to a Neighborhood Watch coordinator, and facilitate a phone chain within the group to communicate important events or issues. The Neighborhood Watch coordinator oversees the group, works with the liaison officer and with block captains, plans events and meetings, creates and distributes the newsletter, and maintains a roster of group members.
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How to Start a Neighborhood Watch in Your Community
To begin a Neighborhood Watch group in your community, speak with your neighbors about the idea. If you have any specific concerns about safety in your neighborhood, discuss these issues with neighbors to raise awareness of problems within your community. If possible, get recent crime data from law enforcement so you can provide community members with hard facts about issues in your neighborhood. You might even make flyers about forming a Neighborhood Watch in your community and distribute them to houses in the neighborhood. Seek a few community member volunteers who are willing to work to institute the Neighborhood Watch group. With a small group of charter group members, meet with local law enforcement to begin the process of working together. Learn what concerns law enforcement has about safety in your neighborhood and what kind of help your Neighborhood Watch group could provide law enforcement. It's common for Neighborhood Watch groups to receive a liaison law enforcement officer assignment -- a specific contact person within law enforcement who will work with the Neighborhood Watch group personally. After meeting with law enforcement, your group will be ready to hold an initial organizational meeting to identify goals and make plans for action. Invite law enforcement officials to your Neighborhood Watch meetings to further strengthen the partnership. Law enforcement officials can educate your Neighborhood Watch group about safety and provide training for crime prevention and how to respond in emergencies.
Keeping Your Neighborhood Watch Group Active
After the initial organization, it will be important to keep your group active within the community. Plan events in the neighborhood to raise awareness and increase feelings of community. Publish a monthly newsletter and distribute it throughout the community to inform neighborhood members of news, events, and issues. Schedule regular meetings and training sessions to develop and maintain safety skills and crime prevention awareness. Maintain regular communication with your law enforcement liaison person to share issues and potential problems occurring in your neighborhood.
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