Does your neighborhood have a Neighborhood Watch program? Crime prevention is a priority for many communities, as demonstrated earlier this month during Austin’s National Night Out event. It’s likely that many of the neighborhoods who participated in the event have crime prevention programs like a Neighborhood Watch, or perhaps formed one during the citywide event. Below, we have outlined the steps to take for creating one of these groups in your neighborhood.
Speak to your local law enforcement
It’s possible that your neighborhood already has a Neighborhood Watch program. If you’re not sure, your local law enforcement agency will be able to tell you if one already exists. If there’s no program currently in place, you’ll want to contact the agency when you begin organizing your group. You must have sponsorship of a law enforcement agency in order to make your Neighborhood Watch group official. These men and women will also be responsible for educating your group about crime prevention.
Rally your neighborhood
You can’t fight off crime alone! Gather support from your neighbors in favor of creating a Neighborhood Watch program by suggesting the idea during an HOA or neighborhood association meeting. It’s likely that the members of the board will agree with creating such a group.
If your neighborhood isn’t governed by these types of associations, consider pitching the idea directly to your neighbors. Create a sign-up sheet and go door to door, asking your neighbors to provide their name, phone number and email address if they’re interested in participating. You can use their contact information later to organize meetings.
Meet regularly and form a plan
Once your group has officially assembled, it’s important to meet regularly. Plan monthly or bi-weekly meetings to stay on top of the most critical issues facing your neighborhood. Some Neighborhood Watch programs use text messaging and social media to communicate between members. These tools can be very useful in thwarting problems quickly.
Neighborhood Watch groups play a vital role in helping law enforcement reduce crime in our neighborhoods, which benefits Austin as a whole. For more information about Neighborhood Watch groups and how to start one of your own, visit USAonWatch.org.