by Officer Jason Schmidt, Northlake Police Department
The National Crime Prevention Council describes a neighborhood watch program as one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the county, bringing citizens together with local law enforcement to deter crime and make communities safer. A neighborhood watch counts on citizens of the community to organize themselves and work with local law enforcement to keep a trained eye on their community.
Neighborhood watch programs work because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur; it doesn’t rely on changing the criminal’s behavior or motivation.
Tips that may benefit a Neighborhood Watch Program or contribute to its success:
- Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to decide upon program strategies and activities.
- Consider linking up with an existing organization such as your local community development office, HOA, a neighboring Watch group from another municipality, or other organizations in your area. They may be able to provide an existing infrastructure that you can use.
- Canvass door to door or through your neighborhood social media groups to recruit members and to notify residents that a watch program exists.
- Ask people who seldom leave their homes to be “window watchers” who may look out for children and report unusual activities in their area of the neighborhood.
- Gather facts about crime in your neighborhood. Check police reports and learn resident perceptions about crimes. Often, resident’s 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.
- 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.
Contact the Denton County Sheriff’s Office by calling 911; for non-emergencies call (940) 349-1600 option 9. Be sure to follow the Town of Northlake on Facebook or sign up for emergency notifications through Nixle or CodeRed.