Monday, September 9, 2013

On establishing a neighborhood watch

Following is a guest post from Naomi Broderick, a rural mother of three who writes on behalf of Protect Your Home, an authorized dealer of ADT Security in Phoenix, Arizona.

(As a personal side-note, years ago we needed a security system for an office where I used to work. The office had mice in it, so standard security systems wouldn't work because the movement of the mice would trigger the alarm. After some research, we contracted with ADT Security (which silently monitors by sound) and were very pleased with the result -- especially after a thug threw a rock through an office window and tried to make off with some equipment. He was caught on the premises.)

Before our colonies even became a nation, and before our modern era of home security equipment and alarm systems, town watches were the answer in keeping neighbors safe. These organizations were formed on mutual trust out of the common interest of protecting everyone’s families from wrong-doers and domestic disputes.

While they’re called “neighborhood watches” these days, the essence of these groups remains the same. While keeping home surveillance or firearms available to defend yourself can be effective in deterring crime and taking action, there’s a certain sense of peace in a neighborhood watch that money can’t buy. They represent the sense of security that bonds a community, and the fabric of good will towards neighbors that defines American suburbia.

More important than what they represent is the fact that they’re darned effective. According to the FBI’s neighborhood watch statistics, communities with such watches have a reduced crime rate of up to 43%. On top of deterring crimes, these programs are fantastic at locating and reporting crimes when they take place. They also help citizens in cases of accidents, fires, or other emergency situations.

Many skeptics call foul with these programs as being a way for mavericks to take the law into their own hands, but the true role of watches is to observe and contact authorities when something seems amiss. Given their help in aiding authority, these programs have also been prided among many communities as developing better relations between residents and the authorities.

If you live in a rural or developing suburban neighborhood, it’s very possible that your neighborhood lacks such a watch program. You can locate watches in your neighborhood using USAonWatch’s locator. It can be difficult to establish a credible watch alone without competing with the voices of other watches; ideally a neighborhood would have one unified watch in which everyone is on the same page.
But if you’re unsuccessful in finding a neighborhood watch to participate in and care for the welfare of your area, it might be a great time to register your own watch with your neighbors. Some essential components for any neighborhood watch are:

• A group of committed neighbors with sound judgment and a respect for legal boundaries to plan and execute a watch schedule
• A means of regular communications, such as a mailing list, e-mail addresses, or cell phone communications
• A meeting place, such as a resident’s home or a community center
• The involvement of an officer of the law to help train members (contacting authorities to explain your desire to start a watch will often allow them to offer you an available officer)
• Brochures on appropriate watch conduct and protocol

It’s also crucial to hold meetings regularly, and be sure to keep up with certain trends and hotspots related to crime in your area. For more specifics on starting your own credible neighborhood watch on protecting your home and neighbors, see more information in this manual.


  1. We dont have a formal neighborhood watch, but in our neck of the woods, we watch out for each other. I have an elderly lady across the street who isn't in good health. We shovel her driveway in the winter and ALWAYS look to see that ppl at her house are recognized. We notify neighbors if garage doors are left opened late at nite. and when neighbors are out of town, we keep an eye on things. Thats the way it should be! I contacted the local PD about setting up a neighborhood watch and got no response whatsoever. So I will keep doing the neighborly thing and leave it at that.

  2. Patrice, This is your first blog that I felt uncomfortable with. Jeff

  3. Lee Reed's got it right. Neighborhood watches is as neighborhood watches does. And no I ain't got no bad grammar. ;)

    So much depends on where we live.

    I've witnessed situations where neighborhood watch organizing/participation/cooperation was met with brutal retaliation, and where those who went on to work confidentially with law enforcement were made public examples by the bad guys. This is what drug cartels are bringing to many neighborhoods across the nation. You can connect the dots.

    Much also depends on the priorities and resources of our local law enforcement agencies. They're not all created equal, and with today's grant-driven strings-attached policies and the patriot act putting a constant and often unseen squeeze on so many communities, it's hard to predict what their changing priorities and requirements wrt to community policing might be from region to region, or even from day to day.

    Thank you for taking a look at this topic, Patrice. We're living in such freakish times that for many, (far too many) people, concepts of self defense, right and wrong and personable responsibility have become impossible to rationally discuss, much less to act upon. Today there's right, wrong and other.

    To be clear, I am certain the good folks do vastly outnumber the bad folks and the ever-growing number of "others" in America, but the discussion of matters such as these has become tainted by a shrill, vocal minority given disproportionate volume by an enabling leftist media.

    Witness Jeff's post above. Jeff's stated he's "uncomfortable."

    Uncomfortable? What kind of passive/aggressive message is that supposed to convey?

    And when I ask what it means I ask only rhetorically, because directly responding to it might only invite an outpouring of outrage/fear/hysteria over slaughtered innocents in hoodies and the murderous evil of guns and the hate-filled probably racist people who own or even support the right to own them and how they want children to be murdered at school.

    I salute every neighborhood that sets up and displays the presence of an active neighborhood watch program, and I'm thankful for every law enforcement agency that supports them.


    1. Thank you A.McSP, Lee Reed, and Jeff for your thoughtful responses. I know that incidents such as the Zimmerman case are really divisive on this issue, and I'm glad that my work sparked a good discussion. It is important to remember that neighborhood watches can be a channel for abuse when protocol is not kept strictly in mind -- I'd like to hear more of what Jeff has to think on the issue, in particular. But I also consider these programs to be vital for proactive citizens concerned about crime in their area.

  4. Suburbia? Been there done that. That said, if you live in an area which needs a formal neighborhood watch, MOVE! Criminals are smart. They know where the sheep won't fight back. Avoid sheep for neighbors.

    As for calling police, frankly I no longer trust them. Plus they are basically impotent. Police have no legal responsibility to protect you and it shows. If you doubt me, read ‘Call 911 and Die’.

    I'm a country boy and out here neighbors look out after neighbors. We are prepared to stand our ground and criminals know it.
    Montana Guy

  5. In more urban areas the formal creation of a Neighborhood Watch may be the first time people actually meet each other and make a statement that they will watch out for each other. Sad but the informal "just looking out for each other" doesn't happen in many urban communities.

    My parents street isn't that bad in that respect but we're in Arizona. The gun owner community gives most people at least one thing in common.

  6. So someone is "uncomfortable".....ya know what Im uncomfortable with? Im uncomfortable with the thought that Trayvon Martin might not have ended up dead if any of those "concerned citizens" that heard the screams for help for 2 plus minutes had just stepped outside and yelled STOP, or THE POLICE ARE ON THE WAY. But no, they hid behind their doors. Leaving Zimmerman no choice in the end but to shoot him.

    Whats the old saying about the only thing evil needs to survive is for good men / women to do nothing?

  7. Check the book, Failure of Civility ... good info.
    Takes this concept to its ultimate conclusion in a SHTF world.
    "Uncomfortable"? I'm uncomfortable with the only defense layer between the bad guys and my family starting at the front door.
    A neighborhood watch extends that and provides defense in depth.
    In order for it to work everyone needs to be neighbors in the truest sense of the word.

    -Old Soldier