How to Organize a Neighborhood Watch Group
There are plenty of benefits to starting a neighborhood watch group. Not only can these groups help prevent crime and lead to a better sense of security around the home, but they are also great for building community bonds. From gaining support within your community to partnering with local law enforcement, here is a quick guide on how to organize a neighborhood watch of your own.
Step 1 - Recruit Neighbors
Organizing a neighborhood watch is easy if your neighbors are fully on board. The easiest way to gauge interest levels is to ask them what they think about starting a watch group. If crime is a big issue in your neighborhood, then there is probably a strong interest in starting a group. If your neighborhood is relatively crime-free, then your neighbors might need more convincing. A good tactic is to remind everyone that property crime comprises the majority of offenses in America. You can also have a brochure that will inform them of the benefits of a neighborhood watch group.
Step 2 - Contact Your Local Police
Your city’s law enforcement agency should have officers that are trained in helping create neighborhood watch groups. These officers can give you more information on the subject and give you tips on how to get started. You can also have one of them attend your first meeting for additional support. With police backing, schedule a meeting with the people in your neighborhood who will make up the core group. It is a good idea to send out an agenda and flyers ahead of time so people have time to prepare their thoughts.
Step 3 - Create A Plan Of Action
The first meeting of the neighborhood watch group should outline concerns within your community and develop a plan to meet specific goals. The law enforcement officer should provide strategies on how to address those issues and reduce crime in your neighborhood. The group should then come up with a plan that includes specific goals and when you plan on meeting them. This plan will serve as a guide to help curb crime in the neighborhood to keep everyone focused and on the same page. Lastly, you need to develop a way to assess the effectiveness of your plan and make adjustments as needed.
Step 4 - Schedule Future Meetings and Training Opportunities
After the strategic plan is in place, you will need to meet with your neighborhood watch group on a regular basis. These meetings should address any new issues that may arise within the community and provide training opportunities for the group. Your local police department should offer programs that can further train group members in crime prevention. These training sessions can address activities like community patrols, neighborhood cleanups, and crime seminars.
Step 5 - Create A Phone Tree For Communicating
Ongoing communication is key to build a successful neighborhood watch group. A good way to keep everyone on the same page is to create a phone tree. A phone tree links everyone in the group with two other members. If an issue arises, each group member simply contacts their two phone tree friends and they do the same. In addition to the phone tree, consider creating a quarterly newsletter that keeps everyone informed on important issues and meetings. You also want to maintain the relationship with your local law enforcement agency and keep them informed about what is happening in your neighborhood.
Step 6 - Make A Neighborhood Watch Group Announcement
Once everything is in place you can inform the entire neighborhood about the neighborhood watch group. You can accomplish this via flyers or emails. Make sure everyone is aware of the mission and goals of the group, and what to expect. You should also have a neighborhood watch group sign installed in your neighborhood to let would-be criminals know you are keeping an eye out.