Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, bringing citizens together with law enforcement to deter crime and make communities safer. 

Neighborhood Watch programs can trace its roots back to the days of colonial settlements, when night watchmen patrolled the streets. The modern version of Neighborhood Watch was developed in response to requests from sheriffs and police chiefs who were looking for a crime prevention program that would involve citizens and address an increasing number of burglaries.

Neighborhood Watch works because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur; it doesn’t rely on altering or changing the criminal’s behavior or motivation.

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Neighborhood Watch Tips

Work with the Police or Sheriff's Office

These agencies are critical to a Watch group’s credibility and are the source of necessary information and training.

Links With Existing Organizations

Consider linking with an existing organization, such as a citizens’ association, community development office, tenants’ association, or housing authority. They may be able to provide an existing infrastructure you can use.

Sponsor a crime and drug prevention fair

Sponsor a crime and drug prevention fair at a church hall, temple, shopping mall, or community center.

Sponsor cleanups & encourage residents to beautify the area

Physical conditions like abandoned cars or overgrown vacant lots contribute to crime. Sponsor cleanups, encourage residents to beautify the area, and ask them to turn on outdoor lights at night.

Train Members in Helping Victims of Crime

Link up with your victims’ services office to get your members trained in helping victims of crime.

Recruit Members

Canvass door-to-door to recruit members.

Translate Crime & Drug Prevention Materials

Translate crime and drug prevention materials into Spanish or other languages needed by non-English speakers in your community. If necessary, have a translator at meetings.

Work with small businesses to repair rundown storefronts

Work with small businesses to repair rundown storefronts, clean up littered streets, and create jobs for young people.

Emphasize that Watch Groups should not assume the role of the police

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.

Hold Regular Meetings

Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to decide upon program strategies and activities.

Establish "Window Watchers"

Ask people who seldom leave their homes to be “window watchers,” looking out for children and reporting any unusual activities in the neighborhood.

Gather Facts About Crime In Your Neighborhood

Gather the facts about crime in your neighborhood. Check police reports, conduct victimization surveys, and learn residents’ perceptions about crimes. Often, residents’ opinions are not supported by facts, and accurate information can reduce the fear of crime.

Start a block parent program for children

Start a block parent program to help children cope with emergencies while walking to and from school or playing in the area.