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.
Sponsored by the National Sheriffs' Association, Neighborhood Watch 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 1972 as a 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 has been active in Washington County for many years now. It has been an effective tool to enhance safety and foster a sense of community in neighborhoods. Neighborhood Watch has helped to draw many diverse people together as they make a commitment to watch out for one another. It gives participants an opportunity to be united in the work of crime prevention and to form a partnership with the Sheriff's Office to take on neighborhood crime and disorder.
Benefits of having a Neighborhood Watch
A team concept of neighbors working together.
Knowing your neighbors and looking out for one another.
Information about available resources and services.
How to Organize a Neighborhood Watch
Step One: Getting Started
Determine the area you want to organize. This should be the area you consider your "neighborhood." Groups range in size from 5 to 250 households. The larger the area, the greater the protection.
Find neighbors to assist you. These people will form your initial group of Neighborhood Watch volunteers. A good number would be one person per 8 to 10 households. Determine the best night of the week for a presentation. Most Neighborhood Watch presentations are held during the evening hours; Fridays and weekends are not recommended.
Step Two: Contact Crime Prevention to schedule speakers
Contact Crime Prevention, (503) 846-2579. For presentations in Spanish, call (503) 846-2522.
Arrange a meeting location close to your neighborhood. It should have enough room to hold your invited neighbors and for the use of audio visual aids such as an overhead projector. Most public places offer the use of a classroom free of charge to Neighborhood Watch groups.
Your Crime Prevention Specialist will design your invitation for your distribution.
Step Three: Invite Your Neighbors
Distribute the invitations at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting. The most effective way to do this is to ask the Neighborhood Watch volunteers to hand-carry them to neighbors and ask if they will attend. Get names and phone numbers if possible to make reminder calls later.
Distribute a meeting "reminder" notice 3 days before the meeting or make personal phone calls.
Step Four: Prepare a Neighborhood Map
Prepare a Neighborhood Watch area map or plat plan showing names, phone numbers, and street number of each household. Plat maps are available from title companies at a nominal charge. If you tell them what the map is for, they may offer it at no charge.
Step Five: The Presentation
Plan for an hour-and-a-half to two-hour presentation. At the presentation you will:
Identify concerns and develop an action plan.
Learn crime prevention techniques such as home security, personal safety, and Operation Identification.
Learn how to report suspicious activity.
Meet your neighbors and establish a communication network (telephone tree).
Recruit your Coordinator and Block Captains.
You will learn how to order Neighborhood Watch signs.
Step Six: Maintenance
Once your neighborhood has been organized, maintaining interest in Neighborhood Watch is important. It's too easy for us to forget to keep that vigilance we thought was so important in the beginning. Some groups maintain interest by planning neighborhood outings, meetings, summer picnics, and passing out the Neighborhood Watch Newsletter every month.
Thank you for taking those first important steps to organize your neighborhood to help fight crime in your area. If the Sheriff's Office can be of any further assistance, please call us at (503) 846-2579 or email Jessica Chandler.