Protect your Investment: How to Start a Neighborhood Watch Group
Your neighborhood can feel like your family when you find the right home and the right location. Building relationships with your neighbors while you make your home your own is exciting and can foster a sense of protectiveness and pride. One way to show your pride in your neighborhood while also ensuring you live in a safe environment is to start a Neighborhood Watch group.
Founded in 1972, the Neighborhood Watch program encourages residents to partner with local law enforcement to keep a watchful eye on the happenings in their community and to show a strong and vigilant presence to deter crime and violence. According to www.ncpc.org, the website for the national Crime Prevention Council, “Neighborhood Watch works because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur.”
Actually, the best place to start when you’re looking to launch a Neighborhood Watch is to visit www.ncpc.org. Here you’ll find numerous resources, including a checklist detailing how to set up your initial meeting, tips for making that meeting successful and information on making local law enforcement and businesses partners in your Neighborhood Watch.
Next, you’ll need to gather crime statistics for your area, talk to victims of crime, and find out how your neighbors perceive the crime rate in your area. Arming yourself with facts will help ensure your organization focuses on the real problems in the neighborhood and doesn’t get sidetracked into pet projects (or peeves).
When you’re ready to get started, look to your neighbors. Find like-minded people who believe that controlling crime, maintaining order and looking out for one another are the building blocks to create a safer and better living environment. Organize a meet-and-greet event and be sure to tell the people you know to invite others that you may not have met yet. Make an effort to include the people you may not see every day: the elderly, young people, shift workers. These residents may see things others do not.
The first meeting should be used to elect a coordinator and to ask for volunteers to be block captains, who will gather information and notify residents of meetings, disseminate information about crimes in the neighborhood and help liaise with local law enforcement.
Remember, Neighborhood Watch is not about spying on your neighbors. From cleaning up vacant properties, to paying attention to the activities of the children on your street, to going door to door to meet the people in your neighborhood and recruit them to your organization, Neighborhood Watch entwines your life and your well-being with the well-being of your neighborhood. Even low-crime areas benefit from having neighbors watching out for each other and their families, cleaning up litter and promoting public safety.
Launching a Neighborhood Watch is a positive way to get involved in your community, meet new people and raise the standard of living for yourself and the people you see every day. It’s an effective and inexpensive way to raise the value of the place you call home, not just in property values but in the eyes of those who live, shop, eat, visit and work in your community