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Neighborhood Watch Systems

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One of your first lines of defense should be some sort of neighborhood watch system. Neighbors helping neighbors has always been a vital part of the American way of life and community crime prevention is more important than ever.

The official neighborhood watch system is Sponsored by the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA). The Neighborhood Watch System was developed as a response to the many requests that came in from sheriffs and police chiefs. They were basically trying to start a crime prevention program that would include involvement from normal citizens in order to combat the ever growing number of burglaries that have been occurring in the United States.

If you don't already have one in your area, you should consider starting some type of neighborhood watch for your community. There are a few basic steps that you can take in order to get started.

  • Contact your local police department in order to see if there is already a neighborhood watch in your area. If not then they can help you get started by offering you kits and general information about the neighborhood watch system.
  • Do some research about the crime rates and crime history in your neighborhood. You can check publicly available police reports and you can also canvass your neighborhood and take an informal of survey of the people who have lived there for awhile.
  • Draw some boundaries for your neighborhood watch program. Make a large map of your neighborhood and include all the homes that you think should be included in your area. You can always add or subtract to the boundaries at a later time.
  • Design an invitation letter and make as many copies as you will need in order to hand them out to all of the neighbors that you have included in your area map.
  • About two weeks before your first planned meeting you should contact the local police department in order to give them the date and place so that if possible, a police officer could attend your first neighborhood watch meeting.
  • Go ahead and start recruiting members. You can do this door to door or you can just starting spreading the word. Get the teenagers involved. You would maybe be surprised by how fast this type of news can spread through a neighborhood.
  • Your first meeting should be help someplace that is convenient to the majority of people in your neighborhood. You could use a community building, local church or even someone's home.
  • After your first meeting, you and some other volunteers should make it a point to get some of those flyers or any other literature that you have printed out to the people who did not make it to the meeting. The goal is to have more people at your second meeting than you had at the first.
  • Some members of your neighborhood watch committee may be good at keeping an eye on the happenings in your area. These are people who are generally at home most of the time. They can focus on watching the area and reporting any unusual activities in the neighborhood.
  • When you meet with members you should make sure that they understand that neighborhood watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Neighborhood watch members should be observant, caring and report what they see.
  • Once your group is up and running you will want to post neighborhood watch signs around your community. Keep in mind that some areas require you to have a minimum number of neighborhood watch participants before you can post any signs.
  • You should establish a “telephone chain” by compiling and sending out a current list of names, addresses and telephone numbers of the neighborhood watch members.
  • You should have neighborhood watch meetings at least once per year. Once every six months would be even better.

Neighborhood watch programs simply make neighborhoods more safe. Statistics do show that neighborhood watches are an effective crime prevention tool. When you take the time to start a neighborhood watch program in your community, members will naturally bond, stick together and look out for one another. Organization is the key to making a successful neighborhood watch program. You can't just set it up and forget about it. You need to stay on top of things.

Keep in mind that a neighborhood watch system is no substitute for police protection. Nothing should be done that would put any of your members in danger. If a member notices a problem, they should simply call the police. This is why it is called a neighborhood WATCH program. The police cannot be everywhere all of the time so you are merely providing them with more 'eyes'.

Police departments actually need the eyes and ears of citizens like you and the members in your neighborhood watch group. Normal citizens need to get involved in order to take a bite out of crime. Home security systems cannot guarantee total protection. Crime resistance is all you can really achieve and by initiating a neighborhood watch in your community you will be one step ahead of the bad guys.


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Information for Renters

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Neighborhood Watch
Resources on the Internet

USAOnWatch.org - A Program of The National Sheriffs' Association's ...

National Neighborhood Watch Institute

Neighborhood Watch — National Crime Prevention Council

Citizen Corps: Programs and Partners : Neighborhood Watch Program

 

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