The Neighborhood Watch program is one of the oldest forms of organized community crime prevention in the United States. Its history dates back as far as the late 1960s. As a method of fighting and preventing crime in residential communities, this program has shown to be very effective. This paper will cover the beginning of the Neighborhood Watch program, its growth up to the present day, and a few of its success stories.
Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and most familiar plans for crime prevention. While the present-day concept of Neighborhood Watch was started in the late 1960s as an answer to the problem of increasing crime in communities, the general concept of this program can be traced all the way back to the time of the American settlers. In Colonial times, night watchmen walked the streets of the very first communities in this country.
In the 1960s, due to a rising number of burglaries in rural and suburban areas, law enforcement officials around the country began searching for a crime prevention program which would allow private citizens to play a role in the fight against crime. The National Sheriff’s Association, or NSA, set the bar for such a program when they introduced a concept they called the National Neighborhood Watch Program (NNWP) (National Crime Prevention Council).
The NNWP received funding in 1972 from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. During the first two years, the program concentrated on providing citizens with information on the nature and volume of burglaries, and also with information on how to make their property more secure and less susceptible to potential burglars. Gradually, the program shifted its focus towards aiding in the establishment of Neighborhood Watch programs that would allow members of a community to work with local police officers in reducing crime in their respective neighborhoods (National Crime Prevention Council).
Most present Neighborhood Watch programs are centered in a neighborhood or block. They rarely have a formal budget or funding source. They are usually operated by local police officers and by neighborhood volunteers that donate their time and resources for the good of the community. Neighborhood Watch programs are typically found in communities that are made up of single-family homes, that have few to no commercial businesses and/or buildings, and the majority of the residents have lived in the neighborhood for at least five years. Neighborhood Watch programs will often use street signs as a way to broadcast their presence in an attempt to deter would-be criminals from targeting that community (National Crime Prevention Council).
The main reason to establish a Neighborhood Watch program is to bring the community together and to allow citizens to take control of their own neighborhoods. It allows residents to increase the safety and well-being of the community while at the same time reducing the criminal activity. Neighborhood Watch programs are started with the goal of eliminating, or at least reducing, the opportunities people have to commit crimes. It does not attempt to change a criminal’s mentality or motivation to commit crimes, just to stop them from committing crime in that particular neighborhood.
There are other reasons to establish a Neighborhood Watch program in your community. For one, both foreign enemies and domestic terrorists who have shown a complete disregard for American lives have declared war on the United States and its citizens. These criminals have demonstrated that they are willing to and capable of destroying our property and taking lives as a means to their end. Statistics show that 80 percent of Americans will be the victim of a violent crime at least once in their lifetime. A violent crime is committed every 16 seconds. A child is murdered every two hours. A residential burglary is committed every nine seconds. An effective...