A community watch is a crime prevention program that enlists the active participation of citizens in cooperation with law enforcement to reduce crime in their neighborhoods.
Through the years citizens have delegated more and more of their individual responsibility for self protection to law enforcement. As a result, fewer citizens now recognize their responsibility to take and active role in crime prevention.
To help combat the increase in crime in today's society, the police need the eyes and ears of the citizens.
Crime and fear of crime threaten the well being of a community. People become afraid to use streets and parks, suspicion grows among neighbors who don't know one another, and businesses gradually leave. Crime, in turn, feeds on the social isolation it creates.
Organizing a community watch can prevent or break this vicious cycle and in the process, build communities into a safe, friendly, caring place. Since there cannot be a police officer on every corner, citizen involvement is essential to combat crime.
A successful community watch program should result in a sense of ownership by its members, and develop a true community-police partnership, resulting in a reduction in police service calls and reduction in crime or the fear of crime.
A good neighbor is one of the most effective crime prevention tools ever invented. A community watch can make crime prevention part of everyone's daily routine, just by watching out for one another.
- Citizens being trained to recognize and report suspicious activities in their neighborhoods
- Implementation of crime prevention techniques, such as home security, operation identification and others
- Neighbors getting to know each other and working in a program of mutual assistance
Tips for a Safer Community
To help keep your community safe you should:
- Above all, be concerned. It is the most effective way to reduce or prevent crime and make your neighborhood safe. Often times, spending a few extra seconds watching strangers walking, or driving through your neighborhood is enough to prevent many crimes (criminals don't like attention).
- Be suspicious. Report any unusual behavior to the police. Write down descriptions of the person(s) and license numbers.
- Consider installing an alarm system.
- Install good exterior lighting (motion sensors and other good lights don't allow someone to hide in the shadows)
- Keep bushes and shrubs near doors and windows trimmed.
- Keep a trusted neighbor informed if your house will be unoccupied for an extended period. Leave them a way of reaching you if an emergency should arise.
- Lock your doors. Use deadbolts (a good deterrent to burglars)
- Look after your neighbor's house when they are away, and ask them to look after yours (collect mail, newspapers, etc.)
- Make your home look occupied when you are away (lights on, radio, etc.)
Start a Community Watch
For further information on how you can start a community watch in your neighborhood contact the Sanford Police Department's Community Policing Unit at 919-775-8268. Ask to speak to a community police officer or leave a message.