Monday, February 27, 2012

Protecting Your Neighborhood: How to Form a Neighborhood Watch Group

There are multiple advantages to forming a neighborhood watch group. Neighborhood watch groups have been described as one of the most effective deterrents to criminal activity. They are a cost-effective and valuable tool in reducing crime and blight within your neighborhood. A successful neighborhood watch program can deepen bonds between neighbors and establish a greater sense of community as well as increase the desirability of your community.   

Neighbors: Your Most Valuable Resource
Your first steps in developing a neighborhood watch program will be to contact your neighbors and recruit a group of interested residents. You can call or talk to them in person about becoming a member. As organizers, you can now schedule your first meeting to discuss your community’s objectives and goals.

Your local police department will often work in tandem with neighborhood watch groups to provide training in home security. In addition, the police department or your local government can provide Neighborhood Watch signs and decals for your residential areas.   

Putting Your Best Step Forward 
Once you have organized your first meeting and coordinated with the police department to provide training, take the opportunity during this first meeting to become better acquainted with your neighbors. Nominate a secretary to record names and phone numbers.

Use this first meeting as a sounding board to address residents’ concerns about crime and other activities within the community. During this meeting, residents will also select a block captain. The block captain serves as a leader in coordinating meetings, relaying information, and recruiting new members. A block captain will also serve as a go-between with law enforcement.

Now that you have formed a neighborhood watch group, it will be necessary to assign roles to each resident. During the meeting, concerns should have been noted and particular attention can be directed at areas where teenagers gather or if there have been instances of loitering. The same is true about any incidents of home robberies. Neighbors should be assigned specific areas to watch and know who to call if there is suspicious activity.

Keep it Active
Promote your neighborhood watch group and hold regular monthly meetings. Consider publishing a monthly newsletter to promote your activities and provide any pertinent information to residents.  

Making your presence known can be one of the most effective deterrents to crime. Posting neighborhood watch signs serve as signals to potential criminals that this neighborhood looks out for itself and will immediately report any suspicious activities or individuals to their local law enforcement.

The Choice is Yours
Take control of your neighborhood and develop your own local neighborhood watch group. The benefits you reap will be substantial. You will forge friendships with your neighbors based on a common goal, you will improve your community feel and value, and you can take satisfaction in knowing you are being a positive force within your community.

You are not in this alone. Once you get started in organizing a neighborhood watch group, you will be surprised by how many like-minded neighbors you will find.    

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