Neighborhood Watch Program
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 is sponsored by the National Sheriff's Association and the National Crime Prevention Council.
Sponsored by the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), 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.
For the initial Neighborhood Watch program training, we ask that you give us at least 2 weeks' notice to schedule your class and that you guarantee at least 10 households will be represented at the training.
Neighborhood Watch street signs in neighborhoods will be put up and removed based on the following criteria:
- To be considered an active Crime Watch/Neighborhood Watch program, a neighborhood must attend an initial training through the police department, where at least 7 to 10 residences in that subdivision are represented by their adult occupant(s). After the initial training, the subdivision must hold at least 2 block captain meetings and 2 community meetings which the police department is invited and made aware of the meeting before they are granted permission to post any signs indicating that they are involved in a Crime Watch Program.
- Additionally, if a subdivision fails to meet with its community and block captains for a period exceeding 6 to 12 months, the police department reserves the right to remove any signs indicating that the subdivision is part of a crime watch program.
- Work with the Leander Police Department. The relationship is critical to a Watch group's credibility and is a source of necessary information and training.
- Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to decide upon program strategies and activities.
- Consider linking with an existing organization, such as a citizens' association, community development office, tenants' association, or housing authority. They may be able to provide an existing infrastructure you can use.
- Canvass door-to-door to recruit members.
- Ask people who seldom leave their homes to be "window watchers," looking out for children and reporting any unusual activities in the neighborhood.
- Translate crime and drug prevention materials into Spanish or other languages needed by non-English speakers in your community. If necessary, have a translator at meetings.
- Sponsor a crime and drug prevention fair at a church hall, temple, shopping mall, or community center.
- Gather the facts about crime in your neighborhood. Check police reports, conduct victimization surveys, and learn residents' perceptions about crimes. Often, residents' opinions are not supported by facts, and accurate information can reduce the fear of crime.
- Physical conditions like abandoned cars or overgrown vacant lots contribute to crime. Sponsor cleanups, encourage residents to beautify the area, and ask them to turn on outdoor lights at night.
- Work with small businesses to repair rundown storefronts, clean up littered streets, and create jobs for young people.
- Start a block parent program to help children cope with emergencies while walking to and from school or playing in the area.
- Emphasize that Watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Their duty is to ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.