Phase One: Getting Started -- Meetings, Block Captains,
- Form a small planning committee of neighbors
to discuss needs, the level of
interest, possible challenges, and the Watch concept.
- Contact the local police or sheriffs' office
to discuss Neighborhood Watch and local crime problems.
- Publicize your meeting at least one week in
advance with door-to-door fliers and
follow up with phone calls the day before.
- Select a meeting place that is accessible to
people with disabilities.
- Hold an initial meeting to gauge neighbors'
interest; establish purpose of program;
begin to identify issues that need to be addressed. Stress that
a Watch group is
an association of neighbors who look out for each other's families
alert the police to any suspicious activities or crime in progress,
and work together
to make their community a safer and better place to live.
Phase Two: When the neighborhood decides
to adopt the Watch idea, elect a chairperson.
- Ask for block captain volunteers who are responsible
for relaying information to
members on their block, keeping up-to-date information on residents,
special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents, and young
captains also can serve as liaisons between the neighborhood and
the police and
communicate information about meetings and crime incidents to
Establish a regular means of communicating with Watch members—e.g.,
newsletter, telephone tree, e-mall, fax, etc.
- Prepare a neighborhood map showing names, addresses,
and phone numbers of
participating households and distribute to members. Block captains
keep this map
up to date, contacting newcomers to the neighborhood and rechecking
occasionally with ongoing participants.
- With guidance from a law enforcement agency,
the Watch trains its members in
home security techniques, observation skills, and crime reporting.
learn about the types of crime that affect the area.
- Organizers and block captains must emphasize
that Watch groups are not
vigilantes and do not assume the role of the police. They only
ask neighbors to be
alert, observant, and caring—and to report suspicious activity
immediately to the police.
Tips for Success
Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other
and to collectively
decide upon program strategies and activities.
Consider linking with an existing organization, such as a citizens'
community development office, tenants' association, housing authority.
Canvas door-to-door to recruit members.
Involve everyone -- young and old, single and married, renter
Gain support from the police or sheriffs' office. This is critical
to a Watch group's
credibility. These agencies are the major sources of information
on local crime
patterns, home security, other crime prevention education, and
Get the information out quickly. Share all kinds of news -- quash
Gather the facts about crime in your neighborhood. Check police
victimization surveys, and learn residents' perceptions about
residents' opinions are not supported by facts, and accurate information
reduce fear of crime.
Physical conditions like abandoned cars or overgrown vacant lots
crime. Sponsor cleanups, encourage residents to beautify the area,
and ask them to
turn on outdoor lights at night.
It's essential to celebrate the success of the effort and recognize
contributions through such events as awards, annual dinners, and
parties. To help
meet community needs, Neighborhood Watches can sponsor meetings
address broader issues such as drug abuse, gangs, self-protection
of the elderly, crime in the schools, and rape prevention.
Don't forget events like National Night Out or a potluck dinner
neighbors a chance to get together. Such items as pins, t-shirts,
hats, or coffee
mugs with the group's name also enhance identity and pride.
For more information, visit www.ncpc.org.