June 3, 2015
Community Safety: Tips for Starting a Neighborhood Watch
Nothing makes a homeowner feel more secure than multiple eyes watching all homes for suspicious activity. Kick starting a neighborhood watch program is not very difficult, but it does require some careful organization and an attention to details. Before you begin the program, assess the interest level of your neighbors. The more participation you have, the more effective your efforts will be.
Neighborhood watch programs are incredible. They are the most cost-effective method for keeping communities safe. Criminals are less likely to carry out theft and property damage crimes in a known watch community. Neighbors watch the windows and doors of other property and sometimes personally respond to the crime scene. They also bring communities together. In our increasingly technological world, people can sit four feet away but exist in different worlds.
If you have successfully gaged community interest, the next step is to gather information. The National Neighborhood Watch website provides loads of resources to help you set up meetings, purchase signs and posters, and register your group with the local law enforcement. It also has social media networking opportunities, concept programs, case studies, and a list of rules your group must follow to remain within the bounds of the law.
The second step is to figure out territory. What is your neighborhood? Does it encompass just the houses on your street? Maybe an entire subdivision? Managing a group of 15 families is much easier than organizing 150. More people means more protection, but it also means more details.
You will definitely need help. It is a good idea to find like-minded individuals who will shoulder a share of responsibility. Most neighborhood watch groups assign group leaders to clusters of houses. This means one person is in charge of 8-12 households. Group meetings can be split into group leaders and their subdivisions, or everyone at once. How you organize the group is up to you. Organizing meetings will be at the mercy of scheduling conflicts, too.
Some groups meet on Skype or other video chat programs and record the meeting. This way, anyone who misses the meeting can download a recording.
Getting the Program Off the Ground
The next step is to set up a website and get in touch with the local authorities. For the first meeting, you should extend an invitation to the police department. Find a location in or near the neighborhood with lots of space.
Bring a map outlining the territory of your program. The first meeting should inform everyone of the group’s mission, assigned duties, and provide notes on what constitutes suspicious behavior. People should learn how to order signs and basic best-practices for preventing crime, like personal safety, identification, and home security techniques.
Following the first meeting, households will make their commitments. Release a list of names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers of every participating household. In the event of an emergency, it is imperative that everyone is in close contact.
Once the program is up and running, things go a lot smoother. Maintaining the organization is about keeping interest levels up and securing neighborhood vigilance. Release a monthly newsletter to participating families, updating them on any new crime. Holding meetings, barbecues, and other events puts names to faces and increases trust between families.
Beyond staying safe, remember to bond with your neighbors and have fun!
If you are in the market for other security measures you need implemented in your home, look no further than All Secured. We are the security professionals you can trust.
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