How To Start a Neighborhood Watch
August 17, 2018
Wanting the best for your neighborhood might come in the form of an HOA (homeowners association) and well-groomed lawns but, if you want to be taken seriously by lurking criminals, it also means forming a neighborhood watch.
Why do they work? Strength in numbers. Communities that show they care about their people and property are less likely to be crime targets than those that don’t. Check out these steps on how to start a neighborhood watch and start reducing crime in your community!
Recruit Your Neighbors
Before anything else can happen, you need to find a vested interest. You likely won’t get everyone to sign on, at least not straight away, but participation is key and the focus should be broad (too narrow and you’ll lose momentum quickly) and all-encompassing. Be sure there are enough duties to go around so that you have active members who regularly recruit more active members. Capitalize on everyone’s strengths to avoid stagnancy.
Meetings & Police Involvement
Your local police department should be invited to your first meeting. Neighborhood watches are a collaborative effort and the police will now be alerted to patrol your area more often. They may also have educational information, training tips and signage for you to use. And, due to the potential for displacing crime to surrounding neighborhoods, police officers are more likely to help recruit as much of the community as possible to offset this risk.
Hosting regular meetings will keep the group active and participation high. Invite guest speakers who can speak to different areas of expertise. Utilize email, social media and whatever means your neighbors prefer to keep the lines of communication open. Helping neighbors get to know one another can lead to higher participation rates, too, so consider hosting neighborhood socials which are much more appealing than meetings!
Establish The Problem & The Solution
What are your community’s primary concerns and what should your action plan be? Collect as much information from as many residences as possible so that all key areas are properly identified. Depending on the issues, it’s possible the media will help draw attention to your efforts. Once your core neighborhood watch group is established and the goals are known, your plans can be set in motion. Be sure to advertise and communicate both the problems and the solutions so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Find out who is home during what times of the day so that you have around-the-clock watchers, then start a phone or email tree so that everyone can be in the loop. A Facebook group might also work. Maybe you create a map of participating homes so that you know who to invite to the next meeting. Signage can also help those who aren’t online or able to attend the meetings. Consider a suggestion box to encourage new ideas.
Go The Extra Mile
The extras all add up to make an impact!
- If you don’t already have an HOA that enforces tidiness, consider neighborhood cleanups. Rundown conditions and eyesores such as abandoned cars and overgrown, unkempt lawns contribute to the likelihood of crime.
- Make it official and register your neighborhood watch.
- The NCPC (National Crime Prevention Council) provides a checklist to keep your neighborhood watch group on track.
- Encourage home security systems and yard signage to deter break-ins. Invite your local security company as a guest speaker at your next meeting.
If it’s time for new Per Mar signs, contact us and we’ll get those replaced for you. In the meantime, we encourage collaboration and watchfulness with your neighbors in tandem with your home security system and security cameras. Schedule a free security review or contact us to have one of our security consultants attend your next meeting.