Please note that some municipalities have their own programs and criteria, therefore you need to check with them if they have a crime prevention unit, but the following are the steps and criteria we use:
1. When a resident calls our office, we take a request for service listing all their information and concerns so that we may then forward them to the appropriate law enforcement department.
2. The meetings are held in the evenings during the week, normally at 7 p.m., a good time for most to be home from work.
3.The meeting preferably is held in the neighborhood at someone’s home. This way people can just walk to the location. This has been found across the country to be much more effective since the objective is to meet and get to know your neighbors. Now in some areas, this part may not be possible due to crime issues, so we try to find a safe location nearby for the meeting — a church, a clubhouse or, in many cases, in the middle of the street. In apartment buildings, we sometimes have even held them in the parking lots.
4. Once a meeting date has been established with the police officer and the resident hosting the meeting, a flier and brochure are provided to be distributed to all the neighbors. This is to inform every one of the meeting; the brochure speaks to the implementation of Neighborhood Watch.
5. The night of the meeting, the police officer and someone from my office attends. The officer provides information regarding crime trends, crime statistics, what his role is as a community officer, what his department is doing to assist the community and discusses alarm issues as well as how and when to call the police. That person teaches the residents what is needed when calling the police about a suspicious person or vehicle and answers questions that residents may have.
6. Our coordinator explains how to set up a phone chain — a collection of phone numbers, addresses and special needs or information pertinent to their homes. When the phone chain is completed, it is shared with all the neighbors participating in the crime watch.
This is the most crucial part of Neighborhood Watch because it’s how everyone stays in touch. We also provide crime prevention training materials. Once the above is completed and the Neighborhood Watch is organized, we then provide Crime Watch signs, house stickers and T-shirts. All of this is free because we are funded by your tax dollars.
Implementing a Neighborhood Watch is not easy. It takes dedication and “sweat equity,” but, as the thousands that are already involved will say, “it’s the best thing that can happen to a neighborhood.”