What is Neighborhood Watch?
Block watch, sometimes referred to as neighborhood watch, is based on the idea that neighbors working together are the best line of defense against criminals, because nobody knows the neighborhood as well as the people who live there. A block watch program is easily implemented when community members are motivated, energized, and eager to accept the idea that crime prevention is a shared responsibility. All it takes to form a successful block watch is an engaged group of neighbors, dedicated leadership, and a core group of volunteers ready to serve on behalf of their neighborhood.
Once names and contact information are collected for the residents in a particular block watch area, it is time to meet! Knowing who your neighbors are is a cornerstone of block watch. Meetings are held in living rooms, garages, and sometimes churches, depending on how much space is needed. Block watch meetings can be easily tailored to suit the needs of any neighborhood.
Block watch is all about communication, connections, reporting all suspicious incidents, and knowing who your neighbors are. A robust, thriving block watch program serves as a deterrent to criminals, by making neighborhoods less attractive to thieves.
Block Watch Structure
Block watch groups are made up of residents of a particular street, cul-de-sac, or block. Generally, a block watch group has a captain and a co-captain, who work together to host and lead the meetings, research crime statistics, coordinate volunteers, facilitate the collection of contact information for block watch participants and create a standard model for block watch communication, including phone calls, text messaging, Facebook, email or Nextdoor.
Block Watch Communication
For many years, block watch programs have relied on “phone trees,” as a standard means of communication during or after an incident. Phone trees are made up of the names and phone numbers of individuals in a particular block watch area and used to expedite the exchange of emergency information. But with the technological advances over the last decade, more and more block watch groups are moving away from phone trees and relying on social media platforms like Facebook and Nextdoor. For more information on effective block watch communication tools, visit: https://nnw.org/neighborhood-watch-and-social-media.
Once your block watch program is underway, you’ll want to gather crime statistics for your neighborhood available through Community Crime Mapping. By having the facts about what crimes are happening in your neighborhood, you will be better prepared to raise awareness, report things that are out of the ordinary, and prevent crimes from happening. Always remember to call 9-1-1 to report any suspicious activity. Never assume that your neighbor has already reported it! Vigilant neighbors working together are a wonderful way to make your neighborhood less attractive to thieves.
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