The Power of Neighborhood Watch

The Power of Neighborhood Watch
Posted on 07/05/2017

Neighbors helping neighbors: It's a simple adage and one that holds immeasurable power when it comes to keeping communities safe. Over the years, neighborhood watch groups have grown in number, having a positive impact on the reduction of crime in communities throughout the country.

Although it's difficult to measure the effectiveness of neighborhood watch groups against crime in terms of solid statistics, watch programs are undoubtedly effective.

According to the National Sheriffs' Association, neighborhood watch programs work because they make life difficult for potential criminals in a number of ways. Depending on the scope of the program, watch associations can do everything from encouraging homeowners to get security inspections and upgrade locks, security hardware and lighting to organizing phone trees for quick neighborhood alerts. Watch groups also ward off potential criminal activity by keeping the neighborhood well-marked with watch signs and stickers on homes—the kinds of things that make thieves think twice.

Once a watch group is up and running, neighbors must remember to keep their eyes open. No matter how many police patrols go through a community each day, no one knows their own neighborhood better than the people who live there.  Citizens can be the eyes and ears for law enforcement. Keeping an eye out for suspicious activity—anything that seems out of the ordinary neighborhood routine—will have the biggest impact on deterring would-be criminals.

The most important way to help local law enforcement is to try to remember as many details as possible either about the individual or the situation just witnessed. Write down what happened, when and where it happened and as many details as you can remember. When it comes to vehicles, try to remember license plate numbers—even portions of them can help—and as many details about the make and model of the car as possible as well as the direction of its travel. In terms of people, think of height, weight, sex, hair color, race, clothing and other distinguishing details. The more details people can remember, the better the chance that local law enforcement will be able to find and prosecute the suspect. Safety, like so many other things, is in the details.

The feeling of connection makes the watch group more about neighbors helping neighbors than just fighting back against crime. In most cases, being "nosy" is just another word for concern. And it's a concern that has paid off in terms of improving life for everyone in the neighborhood.