How to Start a Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch is a partnership between the Police Department and residents that provides you the opportunity to get to know your neighbors, and allow officers to get to know you and your neighborhood. In an effort to reduce crime and enhance quality of life in your community, SMPD Crime Prevention Coordinators will show you how to protect yourself, your neighbors, and your property from crime. Statistical data, along with criminals themselves, confirm that when neighbors organize, the opportunity for crime is drastically reduced.  

Continue the Process:
  1. Contact Your Crime Prevention Coordinator

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    To join an existing Neighborhood Watch group, contact the Community Relations Unit at (310) 458-8474 to see if there are any active groups in your area. If there are currently no active groups in the area, you can be the first to start one!

  2. Schedule & Promote Your Meeting

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    Once you have gotten a group together, call the Community Relations Unit at (310) 458-8474 to schedule a date and time for your first meeting. Be sure to indicate the number of households that will attend, so that we can provide you with flyers to distribute announcing the date, time, location and topic. 

    Concentrate your initial efforts on those neighbors with whom you already have occasional contact. For example, if your block is mostly single family dwellings, invite neighbors on both sides of the street and adjacent corners. If you live in an apartment or condominium, include everyone in your building and in the adjacent building, as space permits. Talk to your neighbors and tell them you are starting a Neighborhood Watch and need their participation. If you can find another willing neighbor to assist you, enlist their help and go safely door-to-door to introduce yourselves to other neighbors. See if any of your neighbors can offer their home to host the first or future meetings, or find another location for your meeting such as a local school, place of worship or library.

  3. Remind Invitees Days in Advance

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    Have some neighbors help you distribute the flyers about 7-10 days before the meeting, and remind everyone by phone or in person about 2-3 days prior. The Crime Prevention Coordinator assigned to your area will bring a summary of local crime activity and will assist you in running your first meeting.

  4. Keep it Going!

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    The continued interest and involvement of your neighbors is crucial to the success of your Neighborhood Watch. Holding periodic crime prevention meetings is important. However, try to avoid discussing only heavy solemn topics in your group, as this may cause a loss of interest. Instead, introduce a variety of activities into your Neighborhood Watch including the following:

    • Block Parties: Neighbors arrange to have the street blocked off from vehicle traffic to allow for an outdoor party. A potluck meal and games set the stage for a festive occasion. Consider inviting the Police and Fire Department to hold a display or give a demonstration. You can contact your Crime Prevention Coordinator for assistance with scheduling your block party.
    • Neighborhood Potlucks: A pleasant change of pace takes place when a neighbor hosts a gathering where residents bring and share their favorite foods and beverages.
    • Progressive Dinner: A great way to mingle with neighbors is to plan a dinner where neighbors prepare foods from a planned menu, and each item from salad to dessert is served at a different location.
    • Outdoor Picnic: When the weather is moderate, an outdoor or backyard picnic on a weekend is a fun way to get together with your neighbors.
    • Pool Party: Residents with pools can invite neighbors over for a gathering around the pool, especially during a heat spell.
    • House Warming: Introduce yourself to new neighbors and invite them to your next gathering. They may volunteer to host a future meeting in their new home.

    Arranging these types of activities will foster a sense of cohesiveness among your neighbors, and welcome new residents to the area. Having this kind of relationship with your neighbors will help make you better able to recognize suspicious or unusual activity and make you more inclined to report it to the police. You’ll also be able to alert your neighbors and raise their awareness and sense of community, thus making it more difficult for criminals to go unnoticed in your neighborhood.

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