Safe Homes: Neighborhood Watch Program


A neighborhood watch program is traditionally described as a group or organization committed to the prevention of crime and vandalism within a particular area. In most cases, members of a neighborhood watch take turns surveying the district for signs of criminal behavior, which is then reported to the police department or other local authority. While neighborhood watch programs are believed by many to be a relatively new creation, some historians suggest that they have been in existence for as many as 300 years. Though developing a neighborhood watch program may seem difficult, it is not impossible. For optimal results, organization directors should form a group of interested participants, hold regular meetings, advertise, and work with local authorities. 



Recruit Members

Running a neighborhood watch program without the assistance of friends and neighbors is quite difficult, if not all-out impossible. Individuals who are interested in starting this type of program should talk with other members of the neighborhood, as well as law enforcement officials and local political figures. As opposed to other clubs or organizations, in which “bigger is better,” this is not always true when creating a neighborhood watch program. Instead of trying to get as many members as possible, organization directors should focus on recruiting individuals who have a genuine interest in and commitment to the program. Schools, clubs, and even athletic organizations within the neighborhood may also have an interest in participation in a neighborhood watch program.



Hold Monthly Meetings

Holding regularly-scheduled meetings is another important part of establishing a successful neighborhood watch program. Initially, monthly meetings should focus on the identification of specific problems that plague the neighborhood in question. In addition, establishing the boundaries of the areas included in the neighborhood watch is also important during the setup of the program. Finally, compiling lists that include the contact information of all program participants should be done to ensure neighborhood watch program success. Once the group has become more established, monthly meetings can focus on specific problems that are occurring, and potential solutions to these events. While neighborhood watch meetings are generally held in the home of organization leaders, they can also be held in community centers or banquet halls.



Advertise

Advertisement of a neighborhood watch program is often designed to increase the number of group participants. While this technique is often considered to be highly successful, well-placed advertisements can also be an effective way to deter would-be criminals. Some research suggests that signs, posters, and other documentation which indicates the presence of a neighborhood watch program can decrease the instances of burglary, vandalism, and even more serious cases of violence by as much as 75%. Programs that are especially dedicated to the advertisement of their presence may want to consider placing ads on local radio or television stations, or through newspapers and newsletters. While these advertisements may require financial contribution, they are generally considered to be highly effective.



Work with Local Authorities

Finally, working with local authorities—such as the police or fire department—can also be an effective way to ensure success when starting a neighborhood watch program. Partnering with these organizations can not only ensure rapid response when a criminal event is identified, but can also be an effective way to gain additional information about issues and concerns in the neighborhood in question. Local police and fire departments can also often provide guidance and assistance when it comes to registering the program. While registration is not required when developing a neighborhood watch program, it can lend legitimacy and further support.