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Neighborhood Watch Resources
Source: Office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION:

Neighborhood watch, Block watch, town watch--whatever the title, this initiative is one of the most effective ways to prevent crime, attend to home and personal security, address the safety of our children and the elderly and reduce fear and isolation. Civic involvement, collaborative problem-solving and mutual commitment have helped cities and neighborhoods reduce crime by significant numbers.

In early 1972, the National Sheriffs' Association created a model program for today's neighborhood watch. At that time, the Chiefs were searching for ways to attack the increasing burglary rate across the country. It was recognized that communities able to secure the assistance of their residents in observing, recognizing and reporting suspicious or criminal activities were better able to keep the burglary rate down and reduce other crimes. Today, neighborhood watch is the largest single organized crime prevention project in the nation.

We know that neighborhood watch forges strong bonds among residents. Watch groups create a sense of community and pride by forming a unified group of citizens dedicated to improving their neighborhood. Partnering with law enforcement, citizens become their eyes and ears. These groups also serve as an empowering outlet for victims of crime. It helps give victims a greater sense of control--ensuring that what happened to them will be less likely to happen to others. A neighborhood watch program can also be a springboard for many other efforts to address the causes of crime, reduce crime and improve neighborhood conditions including youth recreation, child care, economic development, senior citizen activities, affordable housing and community beautification.

BENEFITS OF NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH:

  1. Deters criminal activity;

  2. Creates a greater sense of security and reduces fear of crime;

  3. Builds bonds with neighbors; people look out for one another; it stimulates neighborhood awareness;

  4. Reduces the risk of becoming a crime victim; it reduces the physical, financial and psychological costs of crime;

  5. Instructs residents on how to observe and report suspicious activities in your community; and

  6. Addresses quality of life issues and mutual interests in your community.


Crime Prevention Survey:

The National Crime Prevention Council, with support from ADT Security Services, Inc., recently released its 2000 national crime survey: Are We Safe? This survey measures attitudes and behaviors about crime prevention throughout the country.

Despite the decrease in crime, the survey found that fear and anxiety about crime persists. If we do not feel safe in our communities, we change our activities and withdraw from community life. This negative chain reaction perpetuates itself: generating more fear, isolation and increased crime. Among the findings:

  • Seventeen percent of the people surveyed said they were more fearful of walking in their neighborhoods this year than last.

  • Nearly one-half of the respondents could name at least one program in their community that prevents crime. Neighborhood watch was cited by 45 percent of those surveyed.

  • Only approximately one in six Americans or seventeen percent volunteers in a program that prevents crime. Of those who volunteer, four in ten work with neighborhood watch.

While Americans are concerned about the safety of their children, they expose them to risks or crime and violence:

  • Three out of ten families left children under 18 years of age at home without adult supervision for at least 30 minutes during the work week.

  • One in four families left a child at home without adult care for 30 minutes or more at least sometime during the week end.

  • More than three out of ten parents never ask about alcohol and firearms storage in homes where their children play.

Although fear, or at least uneasiness about crime is extensive, many adults are ready, willing, and able to become active in their neighborhoods. This survey finding shows promise since we know that involvement of residents and stakeholders is among the best remedies to crime.

Additional results include:

  • About eight in ten of us have a neighbor who would watch our homes while we are away.

  • One in five Americans who doesn't volunteer explains that it is because he/she is unaware of where to go or whom to contact.

  • Eighty-three percent agree or strongly agree that we should work with our neighbors to solve community problems.

  • Fully one in four names getting involved with the community as one thing to prevent crime.

In order to strengthen the social and economic fabric of our neighborhoods, neighborhood watch groups and other crime prevention organizations need to galvanize volunteers and reach out to the 41 million adults who could be recruited just by informing them of how to get involved.


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