One of, if not the, most practical way of tackling crime in your local neighborhood is to look into starting your own community watch group, which will also make new and existing residents feel safer and more protected.
If this is something that you have been considering for a while, or else fancy learning a little more about, then you have come to the right place. Here is how to start a community watch group in your local area.
Look to Building Partnerships
You need credibility, as does any community watch group. This needs to be sought from the local sheriff’s or police office, where you need to be open to addressing additional topics, such as how to stop vandalism.
In addition, contact small businesses and other organizations who may help provide fliers and other printed materials to make your group’s presence known to the wider area.
Ensure the Bases Are Covered
Once you have decided you are ready to take the planning stages of your community watch group to the next level, it is time to assemble committed friends and neighbors and ensure all bases are covered.
You will need a planning committee of three of four key members, an initial list of the most pertinent issues relating to your area and neighborhood, and a signing-up sheet for interested neighbors and households who want to join in the future.
One of the most important elements you need to focus on, especially in the first few weeks of starting the group, is having at least a core understanding of the streets and areas within your decided jurisdiction. It would also be prudent to find out the current statistics, facts, and figures about the local crime rates in your neighborhood, which can be found anywhere from newspapers to local authority websites.
Combine Formality & Informality
The primary motivation for starting a community watch group in the first place is to make your local area a safer and more pleasant place to be.
However, this by no means results in a necessity to always be formal and keep meetings very much ‘on the topic’, so be sure to find time for extra-curricular gatherings and activities too. Just a selection of effective ways to inject excitement into proceedings and attract more neighbors to the group include:
- Begin to write and distribute a neighborhood newsletter
- Ask notable local speakers to present at one meeting every couple of months
- Hold informative sessions on other matters relating to neighborhood watch
- Joining forces with other groups, such as tenants’ associations and citizens’ associations
Research the Nearest Existing Group
First off, even if you have a group of friends and neighbors who are all chomping at the proverbial but to start, you need to check if there is a) a pre-existing community watch group in your area and b) where their informal jurisdiction begins and ends.
There are several websites online that you can use to find out, and if there is a watch near you, you could always reach out to them and offer your services to expand the group.