What is a Neighborhood Watch?
“Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch, Town Watch, Apartment Watch, Crime Watch — no
matter what it’s called, this is one of the most effective and least costly answers to crime.
Watch groups are a foundation of community crime prevention, they can be a stepping
stone to community revitalization.” — National Crime Prevention Council
A neighborhood watch (also called a crime watch, block watch, town watch, etc.) is a crime prevention concept, where citizen members or residents of a given community organize and agree to report suspicious activities observed on one another’s properties, patrolling streets, providing general crime deterrence by being present and observant — and, above all, reporting suspicious incidents to the police.
Neighborhood Watch Programs fight the isolation and separation that crime creates and feeds upon. It forges bonds among area residents and businesses, helps reduce burglaries and robberies, and improves relations between police and the communities they serve.
The aim of neighborhood watch includes educating residents of a community on security and safety and achieving safe and secure neighborhoods. However, when a criminal activity is suspected, members are encouraged to report to authorities, and not to intervene.
In the United States, neighborhood watch builds on the concept of a “town watch” by “watchmen” in Colonial America.
What Do You ‘Watch’ For?
- Someone looking into windows and parked cars
- Unusual noises
- Property being taken out of houses where no one is at home or a business is closed
- Cars, vans, or trucks moving slowly without apparent destination, or without lights
- Anyone being forced into a vehicle
- A stranger sitting in a car or stopping to talk to a child
- Abandoned cars
- Vandalism or gang activity
- Someone screaming or shouting for help
- Reduction in crime
- Partnerships with local law enforcement and your neighbors
- A more secure and better prepared hometown
- A more united community
It works. Throughout the country, dramatic decreases in burglary and related offenses are reported by law enforcement professionals in communities with active Watch Programs.
VIDEO: “San Pedro Neighborhood Watch Tough on Crime”
Starting Your Own Neighborhood Watch
- Form a small planning committee with your neighbors.
- Gather the facts about crime in your neighborhood. Check police reports, know where sex offenders are registered and reside in your communities, and review local crime data.
- Contact the local police or sheriffs’ department, or local crime prevention organization, to discuss Neighborhood Watch and local crime problems. Invite a law enforcement officer to attend your meeting.
- Publicize your meeting at least one week in advance with door-to-door fliers and follow up with phone calls the day before. Use this as an opportunity to get to know your neighbors — a connected community, is a safer community.
- Emphasize that Watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Their duty is to ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring — and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police, and calling 911.
Neighborhood Watch Programs in Action
You might think that the idea of a neighborhood or community crime watch seems “dated” or “old fashioned.” But, these citizen communication and crime prevention groups are contributing information to law enforcement investigations, and helping keep communities safe, every day.
For Citizens: Crime Prevention Training
The Special Services Division of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office provides information and training to the citizens of Lewis County. The following lectures are available upon request.
- Operation Identification
- Community Watch
- Business / Theft-Robbery
- Landlord / Tenant Training
- Wilderness Survival
- Drug Recognition
- Bicycle Rodeo for Children
- Home Security Audits
- Road Rage Awareness / Prevention
- Campsite Security
- Personal Safety
- Drug Lab Identification
- Gang Awareness / Prevention
- Domestic Violence Issues
- Law Updates
Other topics available by request. To schedule any of these training programs, please contact our office at (360) 740-1373.