Neighborhood Watch programs provide residents with the feeling of ownership for their community by promoting the belief it is everyone’s responsibility to see that their community is a safer place to live.
Neighborhood Watch encourages residents to be alert for suspicious activity in the area and interact with each other by exchanging information about work schedules, vacation plans, types of vehicles belonging to residents, etc. Regular monthly meetings offers residents’ updated information on current crime trends and allows residents the opportunity to plan watch programs for their area. Do Neighborhood Watch programs really work? A recent study by the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office found “Across all eligible studies combined, Neighborhood Watch was associated with a reduction in crime.
Some advantages of Neighborhood Watches include:
- Reduces crime and prevents crime
- Provides direct contact with the Police Department, Increases awareness about activity in the City of De Soto
- Helps neighbors get to know each other
- Assist the Police Department with crime prevention efforts
The prevention of crime – particularly crime involving residential neighborhoods – is a responsibility that must be shared equally by law enforcement and private citizens. The fact is, the impact on crime prevention by law enforcement alone is minimal when compared with the power of private citizens working with law enforcement and with each other. NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH is based on this concept of cooperation, and nationwide statistics prove that it works. When citizens take positive stops to secure their own property and neighbors learn how to report suspicious activity around their homes, burglary and related offenses decrease dramatically. Posting Neighborhood Watch signs on your street and labels or decals in your windows tells a criminal that:
- You are not an easy target
- They are probably being watched
- You have taken the steps necessary to deter crime in your neighborhood When a member of a neighborhood watch sees a suspicious person or vehicle, or a crime in progress, they call the police to report it.
Crime feeds on apathy. If people simply “mind their own business,” their entire neighborhood is vulnerable. Is your neighborhood vulnerable? Take the following test to help determine if you need a Neighborhood Watch Program.
- Do you know all your neighbors?
- Do you watch your neighbors’ house when they are away?
- Do your neighbors watch your home when you are away?
- Do you and your neighbors work together on neighborhood problems?
- If you hear or see something suspicious, do you call the police?
- Is your active involvement in your neighborhood and community important?
- Do you talk to the youth in your neighborhood?
- When you see youngsters misbehaving, do you correct them?
- Do you accept complaints about your children?
- Do you know what is going on in your neighborhood? The security of the community and its citizens depends upon the people themselves.
- You and your neighbors are the ones who really know what is going on in your neighborhood.
- No police department can effectively protect life and property without the support and cooperation of the citizens it serves. They need your eyes and ears.
- Every citizen should be a Neighborhood Watch member….a concerned, public spirited person who watches their neighborhood and reports criminal activity to their local law enforcement agency.
The Neighborhood Watch program is an effective way to get the community involved in crime prevention. As police officers, we cannot be everywhere at once, so we depend on the community to act as our eyes and ears when we are not present. Who knows better, what is going on in the community than the residents that live there? After your Neighborhood Watch Block is implemented, it is important to keep your group active in maintaining people’s interest. Communicating and cooperating with your neighbors and the De Soto Police Department is key.
Each year, 10 million serious crimes – more than half of the nation’s total – go unreported. The Neighborhood Watch program is simply you and your neighbors working together and with your local police to reduce criminal opportunity on your street.
Neighborhood Watch operates to educate participants in the principles of deterrence, delay, and detection. The program depends on a communication network organized with three levels of participants – the residents, block captains, and coordinator, and a local law enforcement representative.
Sound residential security practices and good locks are a deterrent since they eliminate the opportunity for an easy burglary.
Delaying a burglar for four minutes is generally considered sufficient to prevent entry into a house or apartment. A burglar wants to avoid being caught, so the longer it takes to force a door or window the greater his risk. The burglar wants to avoid making noise – like breaking glass or smashing doors – and he want to avoid attracting attention. It is nearly impossible to make a house or apartment impregnable – but it is relatively easy and inexpensive to make forced entry difficult and to delay the burglar.
Finally, the fear of detection is the third element of burglary prevention.
The possibility of detection is increased if you can delay a burglar, if you can force him to work where he can be observed, and if he will have to make noise or attract attention. Alarms on doors and windows are the surest way to detect a burglar, but watchful neighbors alert to unusual activity who will notify law enforcement authorities are an effective means of detection.
Keeping in mind the principles of deterrence, delay and detection, you can take positive steps to decrease the likelihood that your house or apartment will be burglarized. Take time to conduct your own security check. Take time to put your house in order. Then talk to your neighbors about how you can help each other keep your entire neighborhood safe.
The police department needs your help to function effectively. But your neighbors are there. They know you and your family, what type of car you drive and when you will be away. Your neighbor could be the first to spot a burglar in your window or a strange car in your driveway.
- Report suspicious activity immediately to the police, not the Neighborhood Watch coordinator or Block Captain.
- Report all crimes to the police.
- Learn what’s normal in your neighborhood.
- Take a pro-active stance against crime. Encourage others to participate in Neighborhood Watch, invite new residents to join neighborhood watch.
- Attend Neighborhood Watch meetings.
- Obtain full descriptions and license numbers of suspicious people and their vehicles and report immediately to the police.
- Don’t take the law into your own hands.
- Don’t approach suspicious people. You should never attempt to apprehend a suspect
- Don’t stop criminals committing crimes.
- Don’t pull over cars on patrol or any time.
- Don’t take unnecessary risks to obtain information on suspicious people or crimes.
- Don’t hesitate to call police.
A Neighborhood Watch group is easy to start. Have a meeting with your neighbors and don’t forget to invite a local law enforcement representative. NW programs are built upon successful relationships between law enforcement and the community. Remember this is your Neighborhood Watch group and law enforcement is there to support and assist you. It is your responsibility to maintain interest and keep the group running smoothly.
- Begin to talk to your neighbors to gauge interest. If they don’t understand what NW is, use a flyer to get the word out
- Contact your local law enforcement agency. Many police departments and sheriff’s offices have established programs or an officer assigned to NW. Call and tell someone you are interested in starting a group. Call (636)586-8891 or you can send an email to email@example.com requesting more information.