A neighborhood watch is a community-based crime prevention program in which neighbors look out for each other’s safety, property and homes in a systematic and sustained way. It is based on the idea that when residents, businesses, clergy, police and other partners look out for the safety of the neighborhood, establish and maintain open lines of communication, and collaborate to resolve problems of crime and disorder, they create safer, friendlier and healthier neighborhoods.
The Metropolitan Police Department has a great booklet on organizing and sustaining a neighborhood watch (available in PDF format online here). Generally, it is good to start a neighborhood watch when concerned residents decide there is a need to resolve a crime problem or when residents want to create better communication networks with local police, their neighbors, and other community resources. To get started, the organizing committee — made up of concerned residents — identifies the blocks, apartments, or public housing units that residents of the area want to recruit into a Neighborhood Watch organization. The committee invites members from 25% of the homes or households within each chosen block or building to participate in an organizing meeting for neighborhood Watch. The committee also extends invitations to local police, community leaders, and other service providers (the committee should extend the invitation to join personally, either by phone or face-to-face; this should be followed up with the distribution of flyers to notify residents in the targeted blocks of logistics for the first meeting).
To schedule a neighborhood watch training session, call (202) 727-1585 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.