Neighborhood Watch, Get Involved

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Neighborhood Watch SignsDoes your community have a Neighborhood Watch (NW) organization? If so are you an active member? If not, why not step up and organize one in your neighborhood? The Neighborhood Watch organization is one of the most effective crime prevention programs in existence. It brings citizens and law enforcement together and most certainly makes communities safer. Since 1972, Neighborhood Watch programs have been educating individuals and families by raising awareness about personal and home security. How does it work? Well it’s very simple in theory; neighbors looking out for each other, knowing what to look for and what action(s) to take.

In our current economic situation, I thought it would be time well spent to discuss the many benefits of local Neighborhood Watch programs. The National Sheriff’s Association sponsors the NW programs and has some great resources at http://www.sheriffs.org/

Let’s assume for a minute that you aren’t involved in a NW program or you are just starting up and need some tips.

It is very important to partner with your local law enforcement for the proper training and resources to get and keep a NW program going. Establishing a partnership from the start with law enforcement is critical, invite them to regular meetings. Have them speak to your group. Ask them for recommendations on non lethal personal defense. For example, they will probably recommend a good pepper spray or MACE for a fist line of self defense. Don’t forget to ask them to provide training on how to use and what to expect.

In most communities a service organization for vicitims of crime exists. Tap these individuals for training on how to help crime victims. Again, invite them to speak and to attend meetings to discuss different topics of interest.

The most successful NW organizations are those who know each other and care about the well being of other members. For this reason, it is very important to schedule consistent meetings in which members can get to know each other and decide on core objectives, strategies and activities.

The safety of family and community should be very high on your priority list. For this reason, go door to door in your community to recruit members to join the NW. Be on the lookout for your “watchers”. These are your residents who are at home most of the time. The more of these “watchers” you recruit the better. These people are the “eyes and ears” of the program and should focus on reporting anything out of the ordinary.

Your NW should be an asset to your community, not just your neighborhood. Think about sponsoring an event(s) that directly promote crime prevention and personal safety. Some ideas that come to mind include organizing a drug prevention program, working with a church or charity establish a program for “high risk” youth.

Within your NW organization you need residents who can gather crime facts within your neighborhood and report the statistics often. Look for trends, for example are most break ins taking place at 2:00pm? Based on these types of observations, work with law enforcement to devise a proactive approach to stopping crime.

Vacant land, abandoned homes or cars, are crime havens. Put emphasis on cleaning up your neighborhood. Encourage volunteers to help cleanup your neighborhood. The message should be ownership, focus on beautifying and improving lighting conditions.

Your efforts will deter crime, you may prevent a child abduction, a home invasion could be stopped or a rape prevented. These are the types of differences a good NW organization could make in the community.

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