What is a neighborhood crime watch program?

A neighborhood crime watch is a term applied to various citizen-involved, law enforcement-supported organizations that work to monitor and minimize criminal activity in communities and neighborhoods.

The overall objectives of a neighborhood crime watch may include:

  • Educating community residents about effective personal and home protection.
  • Education about properly handling a situation where criminal activity is suspected.
  • Monitoring the safety of all residents within a neighborhood.
  • Working with local authorities in ensuring a safe, but not overly policed, neighborhood.
  • Encouraging neighbors to work and build stronger bonds together for a stronger sense of community.
neighborhood watch

Looking to start a Neighborhood Watch Program? Take these following steps:

1. Find interested neighbors in working with you, and arrange an initial meeting

If you want to introduce a crime watch program in your neighborhood, the first thing you should do is talk to fellow neighbors about their interest in cooperating with the program. Providing neighbors the chance to meet one another is an essential component in an effective program.

Start off by arranging an introductory meeting where you can get to know one another and discuss the goals of starting the program in your community. From there, you can plan out the next steps in getting your program off of the ground.

2. Approach your local law enforcement

police

Although some crime watch programs are active without the endorsement of local law enforcement agencies, it is highly encouraged that you approach your local authorities about your community’s intention of starting a program.

Their recognition and support will open the door to a more effective program. As long as you play by the rules, authorities could give your program needed supplies (such as fliers and other educational material).

You could invite a local officer to a scheduled meeting, where she or he can provide further details about the proper ways for handling a community watch program.

3. Elect a chairperson and recruit captain volunteers

Once a basis of participants and support has been established, either elect or find someone willing to serve as chairperson of the watch. Also seek out volunteers to act as block captains. Responsibilities associated with block captains include:

Important things about managing a neighborhood watch program

Watch volunteers are NOT vigilantes

This is probably the most critical item to keep in mind. Block captains should not act as vigilantes when they see crime in action. Captains should be trained to work cooperatively with neighbors in an effort to remain observant of any potential criminal activity in a neighborhood, and alert the proper authorities when such activity is happening.

The program should not be authoritative

Once again, your neighbrhood watch program should merely act as a cooperative within the community. If authorities know that block captains are overreaching their responsibilities, it could result in consequences for the overall recognition of the program.