ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Statistics show that neighborhood watch programs make communities safer. Chemung County Sheriff Bill Schrom shared with us fourteen tips for every neighborhood watch program.
Here’s the list:
- First of all, there needs to be a desire within a neighborhood or small community to want to do this.
- You need a group organizer(s) to spearhead meetings and to keep the group motivated.
- Location to meet. A lot of groups use their local church to host these meetings.
- They are most effective when the participants are from the same neighborhoods or communities.
- A critical component of Neighborhood Watch is that they work hand-in-hand with local law enforcement to reduce crime and improve quality of life. They serve as the eyes and ears for law enforcement in their communities. They are not vigilantes, but are asked to observe, document (in writing, video, photos, etc.), and report that information to law enforcement.
- Generally, they serve to keep an eye on their communities and provide information on suspicious vehicles, people or conditions that are occurring.
- Over the years, these Neighborhood Watch groups have expanded their purpose beyond keeping an eye out for “bad things” within their communities, but also serve as an outreach for various community events and positive things that are happening within their community. They serve to watch out for one another, check in with the elderly, check on property if a neighbor is out of town (to include securing packages, etc.).
- They are very effective when organized to assist their communities in emergency preparedness for natural disasters and other issues that may arise that effect the entire community.
- They are considered Homeland Security at the most local level.
- Social media has made it very convenient to organize meetings, events and to just share general information with one another.
- Persons who are not as mobile, that cannot actively get out within their communities, can become “window watchers” and monitor activity from the comfort of their home and report issues that need to be reported. This allows them to still be involved.
- From a law enforcement perspective, we emphasize that these groups don’t actively engage with suspicious vehicles or persons.
- If a group is established, we will provide them with information on crime facts and trends, as well as specific complaints handled within their communities which helps them to be both prepared and. in most cases, reduces fear based on misinformation they have been provided or heard.
- I tend to strongly subscribe to the “broken window” theory and believe that communities who take a proactive approach to cleaning up their neighborhoods can significantly contribute to the reduction of crime.