What Your Neighborhood Watch Program Can Do
Display Neighborhood Watch Group Signs and Decals:
Placing Neighborhood Watch signs and decals in your community’s streets and homes acts as a deterrent to potential criminals. Criminals will be less likely to strike in a neighborhood if they know it is on the lookout for crime. Putting up signs and decals is one way to let criminals know that a neighborhood watch program is present in your community and that they had better stay out of it.
Neighborhood Watch signs and decals may be purchased from the following websites:
One effective way to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood is to organize routine foot and vehicle patrols. Block Captains can set them up in their specific areas or Program Coordinators can organize larger patrols of the entire neighborhood. Patrols should consist of at least two people and occur in periodic shifts. Patrol members should watch for suspicious activity and carry a cell phone or radio so that any suspicious activity may be reported to your local law enforcement agency and Block Captains. The number of patrols should be increased during certain times such as Halloween or during local carnivals and fairs when there will be extra people and traffic in your neighborhood’s streets. It is important to inform residents in the neighborhood who are not participating in the watch program of when the patrols will be occurring. If they want the patrols to stay away from their property, it is important to respect their wishes and do so. It is also important to remember that the patrol members do not have police powers and should not confront any potential criminals themselves, but should write down a description of the suspicious activity and report it to their local police. Specific rules should be in place defining the boundaries to be patrolled, the proper conduct of watch members when on patrol and the proper procedure when coming into contact with suspicious persons or activities. Your local law enforcement agency can help your group create rules for their patrols.
Keep a Suspicious Activity Log:
Have group members report suspicious activity to a designated person who will keep a log of all the reports. This will help your group keep track of the types of crimes and potential problems that are occurring in your neighborhood as well as help to clear up any suspicious activity that has a good explanation and is not really suspicious.
Create Telephone Chains:
By setting up telephone chains, neighborhood watch programs can relay emergency information quickly (see Sample Block Telephone Chain). It usually works best for each Block Captain to set up a telephone chain for their specific block or district. When information needs to be distributed quickly it can be relayed to each Block Captain who can call the first name on the list, that person then calls the next person on the list and so on.
Organize a Vacation Watch Program:
A program can be started where members watch each other’s houses when they are away. They can do simple things like pick up their neighbor’s newspaper and mail, mow their lawn, park a car in their driveway and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. This will give the appearance that someone is home, making the house a less likely target for crime while the home owner is away.
Neighborhood Beautification Projects:
Your group can organize projects to clean up your neighborhood. Projects such as cleaning up trash, removing graffiti and abandoned automobiles or cleaning an elderly neighbor’s yard increases community pride, makes your neighborhood a better place to live and could even increase local property values. It is a way to show criminals that you take pride in your community and will not stand idly by and watch as crime takes the over neighborhood.
Neighborhood Social Events:
Having social events such as block parties, BBQs or ice cream socials, in which the entire community, not just group members, are invited are a great way to build strength and solidarity in the neighborhood as well as get the word out about your program and attract new members.
Spread Crime Prevention Literature:
The neighborhood watch group can obtain and distribute crime prevention material among its members and members of the community as a whole.
Select Safe Houses:
Each Block Captain can work with group members in their area to establish a safe house for children to go to if there is an emergency and there is no one else around.
Create a Newsletter:
Your neighborhood watch program can write a monthly newsletter to distribute to your community. You can include in it updates on the watch groups ongoing activities, crime prevention and home protection tips and sign-up information for residents that are not already members of the watch program. Newsletters are a great way to keep the community informed about all the good things that your watch group is doing. When people hear about the progress that is being made in your neighborhood they will want to be a part making things better as well.
While it is not necessary, some neighborhood watch groups hold fundraising activities in order to raise money for projects and equipment. Some simple fundraising projects that may be done for your group are bake sales, yard or garage sales and raffles. The funds raised can be used for things such as security equipment, locks, peepholes or smoke alarms for your members or to purchase equipment such as flashlights or radios for member patrols or to pay for additional training programs for group members.