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How to start a Neighborhood Watch Group in Five East Steps
1. Recruit and Organize as many neighbors as possible- It is wonderful that you are taking the steps to start a Neighborhood Watch group in your neighborhood. The first step is talking to your fellow neighbors about starting a group.
2. Contact your local law enforcement agency and schedule a meeting- The next step is contacting your local law enforcement agency. Invite them to meet with your group at a time and place convenient for your Watch Group. It is essential for your group to work in collaboration with law enforcement because Neighborhood Watch is a cooperative effort.
3. Discuss community concerns and develop an action plan- If law enforcement is unavailable to come to the fist meeting, you might want to have a meeting to discuss the concerns and issues in the neighborhood. Your group should create a plan on how to work towards lessening the impact of the top three concerns of neighbors.
4. Create a communication plan- It is important to decide what type of communication will work for your watch group- meetings or social media or both.
5. Take Action: Hold Meetings and Events- Neighborhood Watch Toolkit has a number of wonderful training topics and meeting ideas that can be useful to your group.
What are some of the benefits of starting a Neighborhood Watch Group?- Partnerships with Law Enforcement and you neighbors; Reduction in crime; A more secure and better prepared hometown; A more united community and improved communications.
Sample NNW Group Criteria:
(Special to The Miami Herald- Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010)
Neighborhood Watch Criteria & Implementation:
1. When a resident calls our office, we take a request for service, listening to all their information and concerns so that we may forward them to the appropriate law enforcement department.
2. The meetings, which last about an hour, are usually held at 7:00 p.m. weekdays, a good time for people to be home from work.
3. The meeting preferably is held in the neighborhood at someone’s home. This way people can just walk to the meeting. This has been found across the country to be much more effective since the objective is to meet and get to know your neighbors. In some areas, this part may not be possible due to crime issues, so we try to find a safe location nearby for the meeting-a church, clubhouse or in some cases, in the middle of the street. For those who live in apartment buildings, we have held meetings in parking lots.
4. Once a meeting date has been established with the police officer and a host, a flier and brochure are provided to be distributed to neighbors. English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole versions are available. This is to inform everyone of the meeting; the brochure speaks to the implementation of Neighborhood Watch.
5. The night of the meeting, the police officer and someone from my office attends. The officer provides information regarding crime trends, crime statistics, his role as a community officer and what his department is doing to assist the community. He also discusses alarm issues as well as how and when to call the police. The officer teaches residents what information is needed when calling police about a suspicious person or vehicle. The officer also answers questions.
6. Our coordinator explains how to set up a phone chain- a collection of phone numbers, addresses and special needs or information pertinent to their homes. When the phone chain is completed, it is share with all neighbors participating in the crime watch. This is the most crucial part of Neighborhood Watch because it’s how everyone stays in touch, as you witnessed from last week’s article. One the above is completed and the Neighborhood Watch is organized, we then provide Crime Watch signs, house stickers and T-shirts. All of this is paid for with your tax dollars. Implementing a Neighborhood Watch is not easy. It takes dedication and “sweat equity”, but as the thousands already involved will say, it’s the best thing that can happen to a neighborhood.