Neighborhood Watch Basics: Could Your Area Use One?

If your neighborhood is known for its high crime rates or you simply don’t feel protected and safe, it may be time to join with your neighbors to start up a Neighborhood Watch. With a history that the National Crime Prevention Council says dates back to colonial times, Neighborhood Watch groups help deter crime and keep areas more secure.

The groups rely on local residents working together with law enforcement and even security teams to make communities safer. They do this by making it clear to potential criminals that residents are keeping an eye on their streets at all times, watching acutely for any criminal activity.

How to Start One
The first step is organizing a group of neighbors who are willing to participate. Send out emails, knock on doors, and otherwise spread the word that you’re recruiting members. Hold an introductory meeting to let people know what Neighborhood Watch is all about.

Working With Professionals
A professional security company can patrol your neighborhood whenever you desire, serving to supplement your watch group and help prevent crimes from occurring in the first place. Look for a company staffed by law enforcement professionals with solid experience and training.

You may also want to consider aligning with a tenants association, housing authority or other local organization. You may be able to benefit from their guidance or existing infrastructure.

Keeping the Group Strong
Hold regular meetings to outline strategies and activities that work to deter crime while underscoring your presence in the area. Participate in community fairs, or hold your own crime prevention event. Keep tabs on the crime in your area, so you can arm people with accurate information. Facts can allay unwarranted fears while pointing to problems or trends that need extra attention.

Get as many people involved as possible. Those who rarely leave their homes can serve as “window watchers,” who keep a keen eye on outside activity from their windows. Others can routinely walk the streets, calling to report suspicious activity or request help as needed.

Target and help clean up potential problem areas in and around the neighborhood. These can include unkempt vacant lots, abandoned vehicles and rundown storefronts. Work with area businesses and homeowners to keep streets free of litter and debris.

Remember that the goal of Neighborhood Watch is to deter crime by keeping the area under close observation and calling authorities to report and halt criminal activities. Two essential partners in this quest can be your local law enforcement office and a professional security team.