Parkersburg and Wood County Neighborhood Watch

Members’ Information

Starting and Maintaining
Your Watch Group

MEMBER ANNOUNCEMENTS

WHAT IS A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH GROUP?

A Neighborhood Watch Group (NWG) is a group of neighbors, in any size of area with any number of residents, who decide to come together to address crime and/or safety issues in their area. This group then works cooperatively with local government and law enforcement to develop solutions to problems and/or create interventions for issues that could become problematic.

A Watch Group may be organized by an existing neighborhood association, but the key element in a formal Neighborhood Watch Group is its relationship with local law enforcement. The Parkersburg/Wood County Neighborhood Watch Co-op exists to provide an interface and liaison between the individual Watch Groups and city and county law enforcement officials.

HOW CAN A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH GROUP BENEFIT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

NWGs bring ordinary citizens into closer contact with law enforcement, making communication between the two groups easier, more efficient, and more effective. By being actively involved in an NWG, citizens become an extension of the law enforcement agencies' eyes and ears. As always, joint organized efforts are more effective than individual efforts.

Through citizens' involvement with NWGs, the community is provided with what can become an increasing number of people who watch their neighborhood for suspicious activities or crime. This organized effort makes the community with a Neighborhood Watch Group a place that criminals of all types will want to avoid.

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Hints for an effective Watch Group1

  • Work with the police or sheriff’s office. These agencies are critical to a Watch group’s credibility and are the source of necessary information and training.
  • Link up with your victims’ services office to get your members trained in helping victims of crime.
  • Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to decide upon program strategies and activities.
  • Consider linking with an existing organization, such as a citizens’ association, community development office, tenants’ association, or housing authority. They may be able to provide an existing infrastructure you can use.
  • Canvass door-to-door to recruit members.
  • Ask people who seldom leave their homes to be “window watchers,” looking out for children and reporting any unusual activities in the neighborhood.
  • Sponsor a crime and drug prevention fair at a church hall, temple, shopping mall, or community center.
  • Gather the facts about crime in your neighborhood. Check police reports, conduct victimization surveys, and learn residents’ perceptions about crimes. Often, residents’ opinions are not supported by facts, and accurate information can reduce the fear of crime.
  • Physical conditions like abandoned cars or overgrown vacant lots contribute to crime. Sponsor cleanups, encourage residents to beautify the area, and ask them to turn on outdoor lights at night.
  • Work with small businesses to repair rundown storefronts, clean up littered streets, and create jobs for young people.
  • Start a block parent program to help children cope with emergencies while walking to and from school or playing in the area.
  • Emphasize that Watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Their duty is to ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring—and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.

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1. Source: National Crime Prevention Council

Page last updated on Thursday, 14 November 2019 10:19 PM
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