Neighborhood Watch

Overview


The Cottonwood Police Department embraces the Neighborhood Watch program philosophies of keeping citizens involved in keeping their own communities safe by being active and aware. Neighborhood Watch programs can be found all over the county, from rural neighborhoods to new developments.


History


Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, bringing citizens together with law enforcement to deter crime and make communities safer.

Neighborhood Watch can trace its roots back to the days of colonial settlements, when night watchmen patrolled the streets. The modern version of Neighborhood Watch was developed in response to requests from sheriffs and police chiefs who were looking for a crime prevention program that would involve citizens and address an increasing number of burglaries.

Launched in 1972, Neighborhood Watch counts on citizens to organize themselves and work with law enforcement to keep a trained eye and ear on their communities, while demonstrating their presence at all times of day and night. (The program took off quickly: in just ten years, NSA data showed that 12 percent of the population was involved in a Neighborhood Watch.) Neighborhood Watch works because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur; it doesn't rely on altering or changing the criminal's behavior or motivation.

Phase One Getting Started


  • Form a small planning committee of neighbors to discuss needs, the level of interest, possible challenges, and the watch concept.
  • Contact the Patrol Commander 928-634-4246 to discuss Neighborhood Watch and local crime problems. Invite an officer to attend your meeting.
  • Publicize your meeting at least one week in advance with door-to-door fliers and follow up with phone calls the day before.
  • Hold an initial meeting to gauge neighbors' interest; establish purpose of program, and begin to identify issues that need to be addressed. Stress that watch group association of neighbors who look out for each others families and property, alert the police to any suspicious activities or crime in progress, and work together to make their community a safer place to live.

Phase Two Adopt the Watch Idea


  • Elect a chairperson
  • Ask for block captain volunteers who are responsible for relaying info to members on their block, keeping up to date information on residents, and making special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents, and youth. Block captains also can serve as liaisons between the neighborhood and the police and communicate info about meetings and crime incidents to all residents.
  • Establish regular means of communicating with watch members, e.g. newsletter, email, phone tree, fax, etc.
  • Prepare a neighborhood map showing names, addresses, and phone numbers of participating households and distribute to members. Block captains keep this map up to date, contacting newcomers to the neighborhood and rechecking occasionally with ongoing participants. With guidance from the police department the watch should train members in home security techniques, observation skills, and crime reporting. Residents also learn about the types of crime that affect the area.
Note: Organizers and block captains must emphasize that watch groups are not vigilantes and do not assume the role of the police. They only ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring-and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.


Tips for Success


  • Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to collectively decide upon program strategies and activities.
  • Involve everyone - young and old, single and married, owner and renter.
  • Get the information out quickly; share all kinds of news - squash rumors.
  • Gather facts about crime in your neighborhood and learn residents' perceptions about crime. Often residents' opinions are not supported by facts, and accurate information can reduce the fear of crime.
  • Sponsor clean-ups; encourage residents to beautify the area, and ask them to turn on outdoor lights at night.
  • Celebrate successes and contributions of your volunteers through events such as awards, annual dinner, and parties.

For more information please visit the Neighborhood Watch Website.