How does a Neighborhood Watch start?
A motivated individual, a few concerned residents, a community organization, or a law enforcement agency can spearhead the efforts to establish a Watch. Together they:
- Organize a small planning committee of neighbors to discuss needs, the level of interest, and possible community problems.
- Contact the local police or sheriff’s department, or local crime prevention organization, for help training members in home security and reporting skills, and for information on local crime patterns.
- Hold an initial meeting to gauge neighbors interest; establish the purpose of the program; and begin to identify issues that need to be addressed.
- Select a coordinator.
- Ask for block captain volunteers who are responsible for relaying information to members.
- Recruit members, keeping up-to-date information on new residents and making special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents, and young people.
- Work with local government or law enforcement to put up Neighborhood Watch signs, usually after at least 50 percent of all households are enrolled.
What does a Neighborhood Watch do?
A Neighborhood Watch is neighbors helping neighbors. They are extra eyes and ears for reporting crime and helping neighbors.
What are the major components of a Neighborhood Watch Program?
- Meetings: These should be set up on a regular basis such as bi-monthly, monthly, or six times a year.
- Citizens’ or community patrol: A citizens’ patrol is made up of volunteers who walk or drive though the community and alert police to crime and questionable activities. Not all neighborhood watches need a citizens’ patrol.
- Communications: These can be as simple as a weekly flier posted on community announcement boards to a monthly newsletter that updates neighbors on the progress of the program to a neighborhood electronic bulletin board.
What kinds of activities should I be on the lookout for as a Neighborhood Watch member?
- Someone screaming or shouting for help.
- Someone looking in windows of houses and parked cars.
- Property being taken out of houses where no one is at home or from closed businesses.
- Cars, vans, or trucks moving slowly with no apparent destination or without lights.
- Anyone being forced into a vehicle. A stranger sitting in a car or stopping to talk to a child
- Report these incidents to the police or sheriff’s department. Talk about concerns and problems with your neighbors.
How should I report these incidents?
- Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.
- Give your name and address.
- Explain what happened.
- Briefly describe the suspect: sex and race, age, height, weight, hair color, clothing, distinctive characteristics such as beard, mustache, scars, or accent.
- Describe the vehicle if one was involved: color, make, model, year, license plate, and special features such as stickers.