The Neighborhood Watch program is making a difference in the crime rate in Bloomington. Working together, we can keep our community a safe place to work and live.
Neighborhood Watch is simply neighbors looking out for neighbors and reporting suspicious activity.
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.
On average, Neighborhood Watch areas see a 16 – 20% decrease in crime compared to other areas.
- Getting to know your neighbors who will "watch out" for your neighborhood.
- Receiving neighborhood crime alerts.
- Posting crime watch signs to let criminals know you are involved.
- Neighbors are more likely to watch your home and report suspicious activity.
Block Captains are neighborhood residents who serve as liaisons with the Police Department. The police and block captains share information about neighborhood problems such as abandoned vehicles, City ordinance violations, evidence of drug dealing, vandalism, and so on. Residents can report such problems to their block captains for a quick and effective response.
You can start a watch group in 5 easy steps.
- Recruit and organize as many neighbors as possible.
It is wonderful that you are taking the steps to start a Neighborhood Watch group in your neighborhood. The first step is talking to your fellow neighbors about starting a group.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency and schedule a meeting.
The next step is contacting your local law enforcement agency. Invite them to meet with your Watch Group. Local law enforcement can provide materials for your meeting. It is essential for your group to work in collaboration with law enforcement because Neighborhood Watch is a cooperative effort.
- Discuss community concerns and develop an action plan.
If law enforcement is unavailable to come to the first meeting you might want to have a meeting to discuss the concerns and issues in the neighborhood. Your group should create a plan on how to work towards lessening the impact of the top 3 concerns of neighbors. There are wonderful resources that you can use to guide you.
- Create a communication plan.
It is vitally important to decide what type of communication will work for your watch group – meetings, email, social media or another means.
- Take action: Hold meetings and events, share information.
The Neighborhood Watch Coordinator has a number of wonderful training topics and meeting ideas that can be useful to your group. It is important to share emails received from the Police Department with your neighbors.
Everyone is involved—young and old, single and married, renter and homeowner, children and adults, LGBTQ, disabled, minorities.
A healthy neighborhood effort will endeavor to involve all members of the community. If you are interested in tapping the energy of your neighborhood's youth, you will find the results are well worth the effort.
Project ideas for youth:
- Graffiti prevention
- Plays or puppet shows
- Community clean-ups
- Victim assistance
- Before- or after-school Neighborhood Watch
For a program to truly benefit teens and the community, it should:
- Have a plan to attract participants and supporters. Involve teens at all levels of the project (planning, fundraising, carrying out the projects, evaluating).
- Address a problem or issue perceived as important by teens.
- Offer opportunities for teens to make their own decisions and cope with the consequences.
- Promote responsibility and enhance self esteem.
- Encourage participation of all teens, not just those who are easily motivated.
- Build on teens need for friendship - central theme in adolescents daily life.
In order to be considered an "active" Neighborhood Watch group, the following guidelines must be met:
- At least 50 percent of your neighborhood needs to participate in the Neighborhood Watch program. This is usually met at the original meeting, but if it isn't, neighbors can be contacted afterwards to get their commitment to the program. We are averaging 95 percent participation.
- Block Captain/s will be recruited at the initial meeting. They will act as liaisons between the neighborhood and the Police Department.
- An annual meeting is encouraged to maintain the commitment to the program, to keep the communication channels open within the neighborhood and have a vehicle in place to address concerns as they arise.
- Annual participation in National Night Out.
Once these requirements are met, the neighborhood watch signs will be installed and will remain as long as the neighborhood stays active in the program.
- Welcome new neighbors to your area.
- Get your neighborhood together for social events (ice cream social, sledding party, chili cook-off contest…).
- Keep your neighbors contact information up to date.
- Participate in National Night Out.
- Attend the Annual Block Captains Workshop.
- Familiarize yourself with crime prevention materials.
- Ensure you are on the Crime Prevention Coordinators email list so you can receive police alerts and prevention tips.
- Review www.CommunityCrimeMap.com for a better understanding of crime in your area.
- Be aware of what is normal activity for your neighborhood and what is not.
- Report suspicious activity.
- Ever wonder what crime occurs in your in your neighborhood?
- Would you find value in having crime reports emailed to you?
- Ever seen a police presence and wondered what, or if, a crime occurred?
If so, the Community Crime Map is a great resource for you.
This map helps the public get a better idea of the crime activity in their area so they can make more informed decisions about how to stay safe. It goes beyond crime mapping by automatically alerting the public about recent crime activity and by improving communication between the public and law enforcement though anonymous tips. Community crime map empowers the public to make better decisions about crime by putting the same technology used by law enforcement to analyze and interpret crime activity into hands on the public.
How does it work?
Law enforcement agencies keep detailed records about each incident that occurs in their jurisdiction. When an incident happens, the officer that responded to the incident writes a detailed report with information about the event including the location, people involved, related vehicles and other useful information. Community crime map takes this data, cleans it to protect victim privacy, and display it to the public so citizens can be aware of the events that occur in their area and take action to stay safe.
A key piece of Neighborhood Watch is being aware of suspicious activity and what to look for. It is also important to learn how be a quality witness by observing what is going on around you.