Neighborhood Watch programs can help decrease crime and increase citizen engagement in your neighborhood. But how exactly does a Neighborhood Watch work? And how can you go about starting one in your Miami neighborhood?
What is Neighborhood Watch?
Neighborhood Watch is a crime-prevention program that focuses on empowering local people to take responsibility for the safety of their neighborhood. It provides basic training in observation and reporting skills and provides a format for neighbors to gather regularly to consult about local issues.
Neighborhood Watch emphasizes the importance of community relationships in fighting crime. After all, nobody is an expert on any given neighborhood more than the people who actually live there.
What Neighborhood Watch isn’t is equally important to note: it is not an alternative to law enforcement, and it is not about confronting crime or administering justice. It’s called Neighborhood Watch, not Neighborhood Enforce, and that’s a critical distinction to make.
What are the steps for starting a Neighborhood Watch in your neighborhood?
- Talk up the idea with your neighbors. Is there enthusiasm for the idea? At least curiosity? Neighborhood Watch groups are entirely volunteer-run, so you’ll want to make sure that at least some people are interested in working with you before trying to launch the group.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency. Let them know you want to start a Neighborhood Watch program. They’ll want to know where you live and any specific concerns you have. This will help them connect you with the right officers to help you get started.
- Set a time and place for the first meeting. Weekday evenings are often the best time for most people, after work or school and dinner are over. The meeting should be in the neighborhood itself. This could be in your home or that of a neighbor, inside a community space that’s nearby, or even outdoors if the weather is nice.
- Invite your neighbors. Sample flyers are available for you to share, but don’t stop at posting them around or leaving them at people’s doors. Personally inviting people is a great opportunity to begin having conversations about neighborhood safety.
- Hold the meeting. A police officer and a program coordinator will be there to help explain how Neighborhood Watch programs work, how they can effectively collaborate with law enforcement, and how, when, and why to report suspicious activity or crime in the neighborhood. They will also share information about how to work together and share information within the neighborhood.
- Decide the details among the group. Will you meet regularly? Will you use an app like Torch to help you make reports more quickly and efficiently? Will you create a schedule for keeping an eye on the neighborhood?
Reporting crime can be intimidating at first.
This is especially true if you live in an area where there’s a fear of retaliation. But when large groups of people work together and use tools that enable truly anonymous reporting, they can make a huge difference in a neighborhood’s safety and quality of life. Download Torch and help your Neighborhood Watch group thrive.