Want to Start a Neighborhood Watch Program? Here are Some Important Considerations
Do you want your residents to feel extra safe by implementing a Neighborhood Watch Program? These programs which are collaborative efforts between homeowners and local police departments are becoming more common in both large and small communities to lower or stop the amount of unusual or criminal behavior.
To provide some background information, the Neighborhood Watch initiative began in 1972 and has since then made its way into towns and communities across the country. Usually, the program is made up of volunteer residents who work together with law enforcement to make sure their community is safe by maintaining a visible community presence.
Much like a community association protecting your community from a cyberattack, this program when initiated successfully, can be extremely useful and beneficial to the community. By successfully initiated, we mean providing the community with high awareness, communication, and involvement, encouraging them to join the program only if they want to.
If you are thinking of starting a Neighborhood Watch Program, here are some things to consider throughout the process:
1. The Neighborhood Watch is a resident effort, not a community association responsibility.
Communication associations and condo boards are in charge of many duties and responsibilities across the building. This includes maintaining common areas, creating new policies and rules and enforcing them, and making sure their community is the best it can be. Oftentimes, they hire a professional property management company to help with the involvement of these processes. However, community associations are, much to the surprise of some, not responsible for providing security or overlooking resident safety.
This means that a Neighborhood Watch program is not officially connected with the association. This is to avoid liability for any incidents that may occur to its members. The residents involved in the program have joined completely voluntarily, without being chosen, voted on, or joined after other members of the community association place pressure on them. Thus, when all volunteers have joined as part of the program, they are separate from the community association in actuality and as stated in all promotional material.
2. Neighborhood Watch members are not crime fighters.
As mentioned, residents start this program to prevent crime or any suspicious activity from occurring in the neighborhood. This probably means they have qualities of being alert, patient, and observant. There should be an exact plan laid out for specific incidents that may occur, as well as specific roles that each member plays. This helps stop any confusion that members may have, and helps accomplish the end goal of reporting unusual or suspicious behavior. When this does occur, call 911 or a local police department immediately.
Under no circumstance should members of the group try to incorporate themselves with what is occurring physically, especially since they are not an official who wears a badge, uniform, or weapon. You never know when there is a potentially harmful criminal on the loose. Further, members should not mention or insinuate that they are in charge of this program for the safety of the community association, if asked. Remember, this is a separate program from the community association.
3. Work with your local police department.
The final step is to ensure that the local police department knows that you have a Neighborhood Watch Program in place. This establishes the proper protocol and increases the group’s credibility. The police department can also help with providing more tips on how they conduct their behavior in the safest way possible.
Knowing how to generate community engagement can be helpful, even when it is separate from a community association. If you’d like to learn more about enhancing the value and lifestyle of your community, contact FirstService Residential or fill out the form below.