Neighborhood Watch in Times of COVID by Alina Lopez
Neighborhood Watch in Times of COVID
The past two blogs that I’ve written about have been focusing on current trends or events occurring in our area, but it’s important to concentrate on this organization’s bread and butter, the neighborhood watch program.
Most, if not all, of our lives have changed in the past year due to the pandemic we are facing. We’ve had to adjust our daily routines and face this “new normal”. One thing that never changes though is crime. Although property crimes in general have decreased across the board throughout the US, we cannot let our guard down, especially now when things are opening up and people are getting back to somewhat of normal activities. Here’s why a neighborhood watch group continues to be such a vital role in the reduction of crime. Through these lockdowns, many people have reported that they’ve been outdoors more, exercising, walking around their neighborhoods, and therefore meeting many more neighbors. It is so important to know your neighbors. I’m not talking about being best friends and singing “Kumbaya” together. I’m referring to knowing a little bit about each other’s routine, hence being able to determine when something is off in your neighborhood.
Just as criminals don’t take breaks, even during a pandemic, we can’t take breaks in protecting our valuables and livelihood. This is where a an organized crime watch group comes into play. Maybe not all neighborhoods are like mine where we’ve known each other 30 plus years, and have in fact seen me grow up, but being familiar with who lives in your area and having some sort of communication does help with the reduction of criminal activity.
The goal of neighborhood watch is to reduce crime in a community by bringing together neighbors and your local police department. I’s all about prevention. Traditionally, neighbors would meet with their assigned police officer from the Neighborhood Resource Unit and one of our crime prevention coordinators (this varies by municipalities, town, or cities) to recap crime stats in the area, go over crime prevention tips, and voice any concerns in the neighborhood. Keep in mind that it’s not always about crime as it’s also about keeping the quality of life issues, such as code enforcement regulations. The backbone of this communication strategy has always been the phone chain, in which residents exchange phone numbers and emails. Post COVID, meetings have become a bit of a struggle, yet that doesn’t mean communication and information flow needs to cease. Neighborhood Watch has had to adapt, as most of us, to the new norms. Thankfully technology has made it easy for us to meet virtually through Zoom or Teams and meetings can be held virtually. In person reunions can still be hosted while following social distance guidelines and mask mandates. The point is to continue staying on top of what’s going on in your respective neighborhood and always keeping in mind that if something looks suspicious or out of place, you should report it to your police department and get that phone chain rolling!
For information on our Crime Watch program and how to get one started in your area, contact our office at 305-470-1670.
Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and stay safe!
Written by: Alina Lopez