How to Make a Strong Block Watch

  • By Spokane C.O.P.S.
  • 19 May, 2016

Block Watch is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, bringing citizens together with law enforcement to reduce opportunities for crime to occur. The idea is neighbors look out for each other and work together tackle issues and, when needed, report issues to law enforcement.

Here are some ways to make your Block Watch as strong as possible (for information on how to start a Block Watch, click here ).


Partner with other organizations: Leverage the expertise and knowledge of other organizations to strengthen your Block Watch. Your local C.O.P.S. shop  and Neighborhood Conditions Officer not only add to a Watch group’s credibility, but can provide you with vital information and resources. Contact your victims’ services office to gain knowledge on helping victims of crime. Reach out to citizens’ association, community development office, tenants’ association, or housing authority to see if they can offer any helpful resources.


Be consistent: Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to decide upon program strategies and activities. National Night Out Against Crime on the 1st Tuesday in August each year is a great way to start a Block Watch or to strengthen your current Watch. Don’t let your Block Watch fizzle out-create and keep a consistent schedule that engages the members.


Utilize communication tools: For some Block Watch groups, communicating through a phone tree or email distribution is the most effective. But don’t forget about new technology ways of communicating, such as Nextdoor.com or Facebook private closed groups. Picking a communication tool helps prevent the Block Watch from falling apart due to poor communication. Check out our blog post of the best free communication tools for neighbors.


Engage stay at home 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 prevention fair. Take your group’s enthusiasm for crime prevention beyond your housing unit! You can share your crime prevention knowledge (and the benefits of Block Watch) with others at a church hall, temple, shopping mall, or community.

 

Curious about the history of Block Watch?

Block Watch can trace its roots back to the days of colonial settlements, when night watchmen patrolled the streets. The modern version of Block Watch was developed in response to requests from sheriffs and police chiefs who were looking for a crime prevention program that would involve citizens and address an increasing number of burglaries. Nationally launched in 1972, Block Watch counts on citizens to organize themselves and work with the Spokane C.O.P.S. shops, the Neighborhood Conditions Officers, and other law enforcement to keep a trained eye and ear on their communities, while demonstrating their presence at all times of day and night. The program took off quickly: in just ten years, data showed that 12 percent of the population was involved in a Block Watch.


For more crime prevention and public safety information, follow us on Facebook , Twitter , Pinterest , or LinkedIn

Want to make Spokane a safer place? Volunteer at your local C.O.P.S. shop with one of our crime prevention programs , from lifting fingerprints off of vehicles to catch car prowlers to organizing a block watch for your neighborhood.

Spokane C.O.P.S.

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