Neighborhood Watch is the cornerstone of all crime prevention programs. It enlists the active participation of citizens in cooperation with law enforcement to reduce burglaries and other neighborhood crimes. Its primary purpose is the protection of property -- yours and your neighbors. It is a proven and effective means to substantially reduce not only the incidence of residential burglaries in a specified geographical area, but the incidence of other crimes.
This program teaches you the steps that can be taken to help protect your home. It also helps you organize a neighborhood group and start making crime prevention a part of everyone's daily routine.
Why start a Neighborhood Watch?
The Neighborhood Watch program will help deter crime in the neighborhood you live in. The "job" of a citizen in a Neighborhood Watch area is to be suspicious, alert and to report any suspicious activity to the police. It is the responsibility of the police to apprehend the criminals.
Get as many neighbors involved as possible. Not everyone will want to be part of the program and that's okay. Make sure they know about the Neighborhood Watch program and that they are always welcome to come to the get-togethers. Make sure they know about all your events.
Make the meetings as convenient as possible. Have them in the neighborhood so that your neighbors will come. The first meeting can be held indoors or out, depending on the weather. If outside, ask participants to bring their own chairs. Most meetings are held outdoors in front of the home, in the driveway, backyard, garage, etc. Your second meeting and subsequent meetings can be held anywhere.
Schedule a Neighborhood Watch meeting or a neighborhood event whenever it is good for your neighbors! Make it hard for them to give you an excuse not to be there. Evenings are good, beginning around 7:00 p.m. It allows everyone to get home, eat something and those with children can spend some time with them.
What are the responsibilities of a Neighborhood Watch captain?
The captain and co-captain(s) will be responsible for holding two meetings or activities per calendar year. A qualified activity of 50% or more participation of the homes in your "watch" area.
A captain is very important to the success of the program! Their involvement and enthusiasm will get the other neighbors involved. The captain arranges the meetings or events. Two are required per calendar year. Don't let it scare you! It will take less time than you think.
Your crime prevention officer or representative will need to attend one of your first two meetings to introduce the program to everyone. Please call at least 3 weeks in advance to schedule a meeting.
Some of the topics covered in the presentation are:
- the Neighborhood Watch program
- Home Security and Target Hardening
- Vehicle Security
- Operation Identification
If there are specific problems in your area that you would like addressed (i.e., vehicle burglaries, criminal damage), be sure to let your crime prevention officer know so those issues can be addressed.
Subsequent meetings just need to be some kind of get-together (i.e., a potluck, holiday party). The purpose of these meetings is for the neighbors to get to know each other. We do not need to attend your subsequent meetings unless you would like us to address issues that are going on in your neighborhood, to speak on a particular topic, or if you would like a refresher on the program for new neighbors that have moved into your area.
The captain is also responsible for the required paperwork. Attendance sheets (hard copy or the online form) from each event/meeting you have need to be turned in to your crime prevention officer to receive credit and ensure active participation.
Any Neighborhood Watch group that does not have the two required meetings per year with at least 50% participation will not be considered "active" and will have their Neighborhood Watch removed from the program.
The captain is also the liaison between the police department and their neighbors. The police department sends information to the captains and co-captains via e-mail. They, in turn, may disseminate the information to their neighbors. If there are questions or concerns conveyed during an event, the captain can call their crime prevention officer for clarification and answers.
How to Plan Your Meetings and Make Them Successful
Make the date as convenient as possible for the majority of the people. Send out invitations or flyers at least 2 weeks in advance. You will probably never get everyone at one meeting. That's okay. All you need is 50% of the homes in your designated area to participate. Take a quick survey of your neighbors to see which night and time are best for them. They are the ones who make the program successful. Be sure to have everyone there sign the attendance sheet so you get credit for the meeting.
If you would like to block off your street, check out the Transportation Department's page on Block Party Guidelines.
Download attendance sheets and other forms and documents used by those involved in the Neighborhood Watch program.