Neighborhood Watch

Crime Prevention Unit Phone:
(256) 301-3139

The purpose of this information is to tell you how the Neighborhood Watch program works and how to organize and maintain a successful program. Neighborhood Watch was created to obtain citizen involvement in discouraging and preventing residential crime. The program uses citizen involvement to secure their own homes and personal property and to report any suspicious activity to the police.

Neighborhood Crime Fact

  • Burglary, auto theft, rape, child molestation, and arson are the most prevalent neighborhood crimes.
  • Household burglary is one of the easiest crimes to commit and prevent but one of the hardest to solve.
  • Over one-half of police time is spent on investigating burglaries.
  • Household burglary is one of the most rapidly increasing major crimes in the nation.
  • Most home burglars are young amateurs looking for easy targets.
  • Statistics show that in over one-half of household burglaries there was not any forced entry involved.
  • A majority of household burglaries occur during daylight hours.
  • Household burglary has a high potential for death or injury in cases where a burglar is surprised by the property owner.

How Neighborhood Watch Works

Neighborhood Watch operates to educate participants in the principles of deterrence, delay, and detection. The program depends on a communication network organized with three levels of participants – the resident, block captains, and the Crime Prevention Program. Vigilante actions are in no way condoned by the Neighborhood Watch Program. No one is asked to take personal risks or be a hero.

Organizing A Program

  • Contact the Crime Prevention Office for an appointment to discuss setting boundaries for your neighborhood watch area. Crime Prevention will issue copies of survey forms to be completed in the designated area.
  • A Block Captain Coordinator and Block Captains must be enlisted to coordinate survey and organize area. Each area must have one Block Captain Coordinator and at least one Block Captain for every 10-15 homes.
  • Block Captains visit each home in their area telling residents that they are interested in discouraging crime in the neighborhood by forming a Neighborhood Watch. Block Captains ask for help towards this goal by residents signing the survey form furnished by Crime Prevention.
  • There must be a least 60% participation in any given neighborhood in order to qualify for the Neighborhood Watch Program.
  • Completed survey forms are returned to the Crime Prevention Office for participation check.
  • Block Captain Coordinator contacts the Crime Prevention Office for dates and time for large area meeting.
  • Residents attend a meeting and learn about home security, property identification, and explanation of the Neighborhood Watch concept.
  • Block Captains attend a meeting where Block Captain packets are distributed. Block Captains have approximately 3 weeks to complete their area.
  • Residents are encouraged to mark their personal property with an engraver. Block Captains issue neighborhood watch decals to be posted on main entrance ways to the home.
  • Upon completion of all requirements, Neighborhood Watch warning signs will be made available to all areas. Number of signs and location will be determined by the Crime Prevention Office, with input from the neighborhood. Final approval and installation will be made by the Traffic Division Supervisor, according to city codes.

Program Duties

Since awareness and involvement are the keys to a successful program, keeping interest high and continuing the group’s crime prevention education must be a primary focus of all participants.  Specific duties include:

Block Captain

  • Organize 10-15 homes in a given area by;
    1. Conducting participation survey with forms supplied by Crime Prevention.
    2. Contacting residents about Neighborhood Watch meeting.
    3. Attending Block Captain’s meeting.
    4. Distributing crime prevention literature and materials to each home.
    5. Submitting neighborhood watch map (of the area) to Crime Prevention Office that lists the names, addresses, phone numbers of the participants.
  • Contact new residents about the Neighborhood Watch Program.
  • Keep the neighborhood watch map data current.
  • Disseminate any special information to homes such as crime patterns in the area, homeowners that are on vacation, or attending a function listed in the newspaper such as a wedding or a funeral.

Block Captain Coordinator

  • Coordinate overall organization of Neighborhood Watch Program in a designated area by:
    • Recruiting Block Captains in area (one block captain for every 10-15 homes).
    • Conducting interest survey for participation in the program through Block Captains.
    • Scheduling a neighborhood meeting for the entire area.
    • Receiving and disseminating any special information from/to Block Captains, such as crime patterns in the area, or other neighborhood problems.
  • Act as a liaison between Block Captains and the Crime Prevention Office.
  • Keep Block Captain list current.

Resident

  • Attend the Neighborhood Watch meeting and read the Crime Prevention literature.
  • Participate in the Property Identification Program by marking your personal property.
  • Post property identification/neighborhood watch decals on main entranceways to your home.  (one decal must be visible from the street).
  • Be alert to suspicious activity and report it to the Police Department immediately.
  • Have your newspaper and mail picked up when away.
  • Inform your neighbors and Block Captain if you plan to be away so that special attention can be given to your home.

Neighborhood Watch is a proven crime reduction program. But like any self help activity, its success depends upon you and your neighbor.

For further assistance, contact the Crime Prevention Unit at (256) 301-3139.

THE CITY OF OPPORTUNITY