How to Start a Neighborhood Watch
Being a good neighbor can be hard. But it doesn't have to be that way! You can start a Neighborhood Watch in your neighborhood and protect yourself and others from crime, vandalism, and other things.
Neighborhood watches help community members keep their neighborhoods safe. In fact, a neighborhood watch can act as eyes and ears for the police. They partner with law enforcement agencies to reduce crime. By joining a neighborhood watch you can help make your neighborhood safer.
Let's talk about how you can work with your neighbors to start a neighborhood watch together!
Determine Your Reasons for Starting a Neighborhood Watch
Before you begin organizing your neighborhood watch, it's important to know why you want to start one.
Is there crime in your neighborhood? Do you want to improve relations between neighbors? Do you simply want more people on the street looking out for each other?
If so, which of these reasons is most important? You'll be able to tailor your organization's activities to fit your chosen goal.
Make a plan of what you want the Neighborhood Watch to accomplish
The first step toward creating a Neighborhood Watch program is making plans for what you want it to accomplish. You'll need to decide whether the focus of your watch will be on crime prevention or emergency preparedness.
Get your neighbors involved
If you think that your neighbors would be willing to participate in forming a neighborhood watch group, then hold an informal meeting with them to discuss the idea.
You may want to begin by asking them what they think could be done to improve safety in their neighborhood and what they would like to see done differently in order to reduce crime rates.
You can also ask them what they think should be included in the mission statement for your new group and how often they would like meetings held. Once everyone has had an opportunity to speak, ask if anyone has any additional suggestions or comments before moving on to the next step.
Meet with local law enforcement and community leaders
Meet with local law enforcement and community leaders to discuss crime trends in your area, as well as resources available for citizens who want to get involved in their neighborhoods. Ask them to provide training on how to participate in the program.
Get permission from your city council or homeowners association board before starting a new group or modifying an existing one. Your city council may offer financial assistance, such as money for lighting or security cameras at high-risk locations if you are starting a new group. Your homeowner's association board will likely require proof that there is strong interest from the residents within its jurisdiction before approving any changes.
Hold a community meeting to share your plan with other neighbors and launch the program
Hold a community meeting to share your plan with other neighbors and launch the program. Make sure everyone understands what Neighborhood Watch is all about, who is eligible to participate, and how it works.
.Ask each participant to volunteer as a Block Captain or Block Coordinator (BCs). These are responsible for contacting members on their block, helping them get trained, and keeping them connected.
Get training for Block Captains and BCs by contacting your local police department, city government, or other organizations that offer this type of training. This will help ensure that everyone knows what they need to do in case of an emergency situation or problem within their neighborhood or community.
Meet regularly to discuss safety concerns and share information
Meetings should be held at least once every month (or more often if needed), preferably at night so that everyone can attend without worrying about missing work hours or childcare arrangements.
Remember Neighborhood Watch Groups Are Not Police Departments
The police department has a duty to protect citizens, but they have limited resources and cannot be everywhere at once. Neighborhood watch groups fill this need by providing eyes and ears on patrol in an area when the police aren't available. They also report crimes as they occur so that law enforcement can respond quickly and apprehend criminals before they have a chance to flee the scene of their crimes.
The goal of a neighborhood watch is not just to make neighborhoods safer but also to bring people together so that they'll feel more connected with each other as well as part of their community overall. A strong sense of community increases feelings of safety for everyone involved.
We are stronger together
A neighborhood watch can be a great force for good in your community. If you're reading this and want to learn more about how to join a neighborhood watch, we hope that it gives you some guidance in starting one of your own. We wish you luck as you work toward making your neighborhood safer!