You’ve most likely come across a neighborhood watch street sign at one point or another, advising that suspicious people or activities will be reported to law enforcement. Neighborhood Watch is a community crime prevention program that was launched by the National Sheriffs’ Association in 1972 to encourage citizens to look out for each other, work on neighborhood problems, and make themselves safer. According to the National Neighborhood Watch Program, more than 40 percent of Americans live in areas covered by Neighborhood Watch groups. Having a Neighborhood Watch Program, if done correctly can reduce burglaries and crime. In a research report by the National Crime Prevention Council, 53 percent of the 36 studies demonstrated positive effects of Neighborhood Watch, defined as a reduction in crime of nine percent or more.
A Neighborhood Watch Program is a system created and run by residents of a neighborhood to monitor and discourage crime, especially burglary throughout the neighborhood. The National Sheriffs’ Association nationally manages the program with help from the Department of Justice and local law enforcement. Those involved patrol mainly by walking and actively staying aware of what is going on within the neighborhood. Signs posted around the neighborhood make it clear that the area has extra protection and can help deter criminals. Communities involved work with local police, but have no authority to take direct action or make arrests. Weapons are often discouraged and are not a part of the watch program, even if local laws and permits give a volunteer legal authority to carry a gun. An effective program helps neighbors to share information and become better equipped to look for signs of suspicious activity.
A Neighborhood Watch can successfully create a sense of community, bringing law enforcement and the citizens together to reduce crime. Seeing neighborhood watch signs alone can deter criminal activity. Additionally, the program builds bonds between neighbors. People look out for each other, stimulating neighborhood awareness. It also reduces the risk of being a crime victim, as participants are taught how to take preventative measures decreasing their chances of becoming a victim, and allows them to be better prepared to respond to suspicious activity. Overall, the program enhances homeland security, working collaboratively with other civic and community activities, and creates a greater sense of security and reduces fear of crime within the area. Neighborhood watch programs are very effective and easy to start, and will benefit everyone in the area by reducing crime and adding another layer of protection