Neighborhood Watch is a program which enlists the active participation of citizens in cooperation with the Police to reduce crime in their community. Neighborhood Watch, in various forms, has been around for many years.
Today it is one of the most popular and successful of all efforts to prevent residential crime. Perhaps one reason for the success of Neighborhood Watch is its simplicity. Although programs may vary the ways they are organized and the methods used to reduce the opportunity for crime, all are predicated on the need for residents to protect their neighborhood by observing and reporting suspicious or unusual activities.
How big should our Neighborhood Watch area be? There is no hard fast rule to answer this question. A group can be as large or as small as they choose. As a recommendation, we suggest a group should not be larger than 100 dwelling units. This allows for each block captain to have roughly 10 homes assigned to them. Again, this is simply a suggestion to help mitigate a work load that is too large to manage.
Can a group be larger? Certainly, the city has successful groups as large as 500 homes and as small as 12 homes. It all depends on the dedication of the groups leadership.
What Does It Involve?
There is no hard fast answer to this question. Getting neighbors to a point of knowing one another so they can work together in a program of mutual assistance can require various amounts of time, depending on the size of your neighborhood organization and your level of dedication to the program. As a recommendation, it is suggested that a minimum of one hour per week is needed for the success of your group. This time may include distributing information to block captains and neighbors, communicating with Police and Neighborhood Services, planning meetings or events, creating a newsletter, making phone calls, organizing and maintaining your phone tree.
Neighborhood leaders should also plan on attending one annual training hosted be the Neighborhood Services Office. The ability to dedicate regular small amounts of time will keep a group moving forward and hopefully prevent the need for bursts of large projects that require large amounts of time.
How Do I Hold A Neighborhood Watch Meeting?
If your neighborhood does not have a program, talk with your neighbors about starting one. Contact West Valley City's Community Engagement Specialist at 801-963-3562 to schedule a date for the meeting. WVC will provide the speaker and handouts for the initial meeting to explain the Neighborhood Watch Programs.
You may want to provide refreshments for your neighbors, if you desire. During the first meeting the Neighborhood Watch Program is explained. In addition, citizens learn how to report suspicious activity to the Police.
The Police Department will provide area crime statistics to Neighborhood Watch groups so they will be informed about what is happening in their area. Other activities at the meeting include the identification of the watch area, selection of a chairperson, secretary and block captains, and arranging for a meeting of all the residents to kick off the program.
When talking with your neighbors be sure to mention:
- Neighborhood Watch does not require frequent meetings.
- Neighborhood Watch does not ask anyone to take any personal risk to prevent crime.
- Neighborhood Watch leaves the responsibility of apprehending criminals where it belongs -- with the Police.
What Are The Benefits Of A Neighborhood Watch?
Many communities with active programs have experienced substantial decreases in burglary, vandalism and larceny.
In addition to the prevention of residential crime, Neighborhood Watch:
- Creates a greater awareness of crime
- Increases reporting of crime and suspicious activities
- Serves as a warning to criminals
- Promotes neighborliness
- Provides residents with access to crime patterns and trends that may threaten them
- Increases arrest and conviction of criminals due to the availability of eye witnesses.
What Is My First Step?
Call the West Valley City Neighborhood Services Office at 801-963-3285 to speak with one of our Community Engagement Specialists to discuss the program and how to get involved.