Starting a block Watch
HOW DOES A BLOCK WATCH WORK?
Block Watch requires two basic commitments:
- A commitment to be concerned about your neighbor's property and well being as well as your own.
- A commitment that when you see suspicious activity, you will take action by alerting your neighbors and by calling 9-1-1.
Block Watch really just organizes and extends what you are probably already doing on an informal basis. We tend to know and watch out for our closest neighbors, but a group of neighbors at one end of the block who are doing this may not know the group of neighbors at the other end of the block. Organizing a Block Watch makes this attitude of watchfulness more systematic, and provides a block map or contact list with neighbors' names, telephone numbers and emails that can be used in case of an emergency.
Police will always tell you to call 911 when you see something suspicious. But, how do you know what’s suspicious in your neighborhood? First, you have to know what’s normal for your neighborhood. How do you know what’s normal? You get out from behind your doors and you talk to each other. It’s your neighborhood, your community. You know (or should know) what is normal for your neighborhood and what is out of place. The more you interact with each other, the more you are observant and engaged, the better able you are to identify those things that are unusual, out of place and suspicious: The things we ask you to tell police by calling 911.
HOW DO I GET A BLOCK WATCH STARTED?
Getting started is pretty easy. First, contact the Crime Prevention Coordinator for your area for potential dates and times to have the coordinator meet with you and your neighbors. Once you have a date, place and time that works for you, invite your neighbors to come. It helps to invite all the neighbors in person. The meeting does not necessarily have to be at your home; it could be at the local library, community center, church, a neighbor's home, etc. However, we do find that the further away the meeting is held from the individual block, the more likely attendance at the meeting will drop off. The number of households and the size of the area you want to include are up to you. At the meeting, we’ll discuss area crime, crime trends, prevention measures and proactive things neighbors can do to positively impact public safety. The crime prevention coordinator will bring printed resource materials for you and your neighbors. A sign-up sheet gets passed around for neighbors to list their contact information (name, address, phone, email). The sheet becomes the basis for your block watch map or telephone tree.
IS BLOCK WATCH A LOT OF EXTRA WORK?
Block Watch doesn't require you to perform any special tasks, go to a lot of meetings, or take on extra responsibilities. You don't have to patrol the neighborhood, or tell your neighbors every aspect of your business. Block Watch just involves being alert as a part of your everyday life.
All it requires is that you and your neighbors be familiar enough with each other to know who belongs in the neighborhood and who doesn't; which cars are a part of the neighborhood and which aren't; recognize when something suspicious is going on and being a little more observant of changes in your surroundings. It also requires that when you see something suspicious, you alert each other and you alert police.