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  • Writer's pictureMaddie Cohen

The Purpose of Neighborhood Watch Programs

You may see signs stating that your community is protected by a neighborhood watch program.

This post will explain how these programs work.

What Is a Neighborhood Watch Program?

A neighborhood watch program is a community-based initiative designed to improve safety in a specific area. The program connects residents in a given neighborhood who want to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities—and of course, to each other.

Over the last few decades, these programs have become increasingly popular. They began in 1972, when residents decided that neighbors looking out for one another was the best way to prevent crime. As of 2008, over 40% of Americans live in places with neighborhood watch programs.

Today, with social media and easy online reporting tools, it is now easier than ever for residents to be proactive in fighting crime and keeping their neighborhoods safe.

It is important to note that a neighborhood watch program is not a substitute for the police. Rather, it’s a way to deter crime and provide educational opportunities for residents. If criminal activity does occur in your neighborhood, or if you witness suspicious behavior, you need to involve the authorities.

Key Functions of a Neighborhood Watch Program

Aside from education, what is the purpose of a neighborhood watch program?

One of the main functions is to deter crime. When residents make it clear their neighbors are looking after one another, criminals are less likely to target them. These programs also create community and shared responsibility—both of which make criminals think twice before breaking into a home.

Another key purpose of a neighborhood watch program is to report suspicious behavior to the police. Neighborhood watch members are trained to recognize the signs of criminal activity. Jotting down the license plate number of a suspicious vehicle, reporting unusual noises, noting the traits of people loitering in the area—these are just some of the incidents neighborhood watch members are trained to disclose.

Finally, neighborhood watch programs also create a sense of community. By working together toward a common goal, neighbors can strengthen their relationships, improve their communication, and deepen their sense of belonging.

The benefits of this go far beyond crime prevention. A neighborhood watch program will bring neighbors closer together, reduce everyone’s chance of falling victim to a crime, and empower people to play an active role in keeping their homes safe.

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