Neighborhood Watch Groups aren’t just for high crime areas. They are a way to bring a little extra security to even the safest of suburban towns. Moreover, they serve to unite neighbors and cultivate a sense of community.
Modern American Neighborhood Watch Groups developed in the 1960s. These organized groups are designed to prevent and report crime to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. More than just “little old ladies” peering out through the window curtains, these organizations often include rotating schedules of street patrols.
If you’re interested in beginning a Neighborhood Watch Group in your area, contact your local police department. They will have resources to help you begin the organization. A police officer will probably volunteer to speak to your neighbors about organizing and managing the group. Then…
Communicate with your neighbors. Stop and chat with the ones you know, or leave fliers in mailboxes or community bulletin boards. Explain the importance of a Neighborhood Watch Group, the value it brings to the community, and the overall sense of security it offers. Make sure your neighbors know that there is no risk of personal harm to them or their loved ones.
Plan a meeting. Pick a location and set a date for your first meeting. Base the day and time on the overall demographics of your neighborhood. Are most of the residents 9-5 workers? Try a Thursday evening. Do many of your neighbors attend church or other religious services? Avoid traditional Holy days, like Sunday or Saturday.
Invite an officer. Call your local police department and invite an officer to speak at your meeting. He/she will probably be very willing to attend. Neighborhood Watch Groups assist the police in spotting suspicious activity. Moreover, most officers want to remind Neighborhood Watch Group participants that vigilante activity is unacceptable and against the law. It is the organization’s responsibility to report criminal or suspicious activity, not to try and intervene or apprehend criminals.
Make it fun. Since you’re organizing the meeting, try to find out ahead of time how many of your neighbors plan to attend. Bring refreshments if possible, or ask each of your neighbors to bring a certain item (cookies, juice, napkins, etc.).
Ask for volunteers. As the meeting is drawing to a close, ask for assistance with the organization. If your Neighborhood Watch Group is to be a success, you’ll need help organizing future meetings. Depending on the size of your neighborhood, the amount of crime in your area and the number of volunteers, you may also want to organize patrols, publish a monthly newsletter or arrange other events.
Organizing a Neighborhood Watch Group can help make your neighborhood safer and more secure. It’s also a great way to bring a sense of community to your town.