In early 1972, the National Sheriffs Association developed a model program for today's Neighborhood Watch programs. At that time chiefs of Police and Sheriffs from around the country were requesting a program that would squelch the increasing burglary rate across the United States.
It was noted that communities able to obtain the assistance of their citizens in observing and reporting suspicious activities were able to keep the burglary rate down.
At that time, society increasingly became more mobile and faster paced. More households had both the husband and wife working so neighborhoods became deserted during the day. Neighbors stopped being concerned about their neighbors' property and began keeping more to themselves. The unity and cohesion of the traditional neighborhood was gradually deteriorating.
Along with law enforcement officers, criminals recognized this trend and began to take advantage of this knowledge by moving in and out of neighborhoods without causing alarm or suspicion. Law enforcement agencies alone were not able to keep up with the alarming rise in burglaries as a result. The need for assistance in combating this crime was provided by the National Sheriffs Association's newly developed program.
Numerous communities adopted and implemented the proposed program with astounding success. The rate of specific crimes such as burglary decreased as much as 75%. In addition to a decline in the burglary rate, implementation of Neighborhood Watch programs also resulted in substantial reductions of other crimes was well.
Neighborhood Watch works because people want to assume a more active role in making their communities safe. It would be impractical to place a policeman into each neighborhood and very practical to utilize those who live there. Residents within a neighborhood know who belongs there and who doesn't and what activity is suspicious. The most important reason neighborhood watch works, is that citizens began working with, instead of relying on, law enforcement to combat crime in their community.
Police agencies cannot, by themselves, effectively reduce crimes such as burglary, theft and vandalism. Local Law Enforcement needs to work in partnership with the community. The resources, meaning you, the concerned citizen, are available and, in more cases than not, eager to perform together with the police. The prevention of crime is an historical and traditional duty of law enforcement. THE ACTUAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE REDUCTION OF CRIME RESTS WITH THE INDIVIDUAL CITIZEN AND THE COMMUNITY. TODAY, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE COMMUNITY RESUME THAT HISTORICAL RESPONSIBILITY.
As the number of success stories about Neighborhood Watch increases, more and more communities have adopted the program. Twenty-six years have passed since Neighborhood Watch first began. It continues to evolve and expand to encompass more than just a neighborhood concerns.
Other issues of concern to the community as a whole are addressed by Neighborhood Watch such as drug and gang awareness, personal safety, first aid, health and safety, fire prevention, city planning, street lights, street repairing, community newsletter, neighborhood clean-up and fix-up activities, welcoming in new neighbors, assisting senior citizens and disabled neighbors, neighborhood block parties, Halloween parties for neighborhood children and disaster preparedness.
Watch programs have proven themselves to be effective not only in the fight against crime but to improve the well being of the entire community. What direction the community decides to take with the program is its only limitation.
WHAT NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH IS
Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program that:
1) Teaches citizens techniques to reduce the risk of being victimized at home and in public.
2) Trains citizens on the importance of recognizing suspicious activities and how to report them.
3) Teaches participants how to make their homes more secure and properly identify their property.
4) Allows neighbors to get to know each other and their routines so that any out of place activity can be reported and investigated.
5) A cohesive body of concerned citizens addressing issues that concern their neighborhood and the entire community.
WHAT NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH IS NOT
1) A vigilante force working outside the normal procedures of law enforcement.
2) A program designed for participants to take personal risks to prevent crime.
3) A 100% guarantee that crime will not occur in your neighborhood.
BENEFITS OF NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
A comprehensive neighborhood watch program in your neighborhood, whether it is a high crime area or not, will have many rewards to you and your family.
Neighborhood Watch programs are known to instill a greater sense of security, well-being, and reduce the fear of crime in your neighborhood and community as well as a greater "sense of community" and put the "neighbor" back in "neighborhood". Neighborhood watch also brings law enforcement and the community together as a team to reduce crime in your area.
Some of the other benefits of Neighborhood Watch are:
Reducing the risk of being a crime victim. The risk is reduced because participants are taught how to take preventive measures that substantially decrease the likelihood of becoming a crime victim. Law enforcement agencies report that not only does a Neighborhood Watch reduce the risk of your home being burglarized, the instances of other crimes such as vandalism. Personal assault, and fraud also decrease.
Being better prepared to respond to a suspicious activity. Part of the Neighborhood Watch program is training on how to report suspicious activities occurring in your neighborhood and what law enforcement officers need when a crime is being reported and why.
Greater access to criminal activity information. Neighborhood Watch programs are designed to keep participants informed of crime trends and patterns so they will be better prepared to spot any crime activity and stop it in their neighborhood. Neighborhood Watch gives the police added "eyes" and "ears", and encourages citizens to come forward as witnesses.
Receiving a Neighborhood Watch sign to post in your neighborhood. Criminals know that if a neighborhood has a Neighborhood Watch sign posted, that neighborhood is not as easy target. They have taken the necessary steps to deter crime in their neighborhood and are probably being observed. Convicted burglars have reported avoiding neighborhoods that have neighborhoods that have neighborhood watch signs posted.
Knowing your neighbors. Neighborhood Watch promotes getting to know your neighbors and their regular patterns so that each of you will be able to report any activity that doesn't fit with regular schedules. This means that when you're away, you can feel more secure about your property. This also instills more sense of community and puts the "neighbor" back into "neighborhood".
Reducing the fear of crime and making your neighborhood more livable. Neighborhood Watch increases the number of arrests and convictions by serving as a network for law enforcement and the community to communicate effectively about crime activities in their community.
Allowing other issues of concern to the community as a whole to be addressed. Once crime has been addressed and the fear of
crime has been reduced, neighborhood watch participants can move on to address other issues that concern the community as a whole or whatever the group feels is a need to address.