What is a Neighborhood Watch?
Neighborhood Watch programs are intended to build a sense of community while keeping crime out of your neighborhood. This crime prevention program enlists the active participation of residents in cooperation with the APD to reduce crime in their communities. It relies on the best crime-fighting tool ever invented - a good neighbor - neighbors are able to get to know each other to develop a program of mutual assistance. The program allows neighbors to be educated in crime reporting and suspect identification techniques.
The most effective approach to fighting crime is a proactive one - stopping it before it occurs. This can happen when neighbors cooperate with each other to assist the Department.
How do I start a Neighborhood Watch Program?
Talk to your neighbors. Are they interested? If they are, remind them of the following:
- Neighborhood Watch is a partnership between neighbors to assist the APD in the reduction and fear of crime.
- Neighborhood Watch does not require frequent meetings.
- Neighborhood Watch does not ask anyone to take personal risks to prevent crime.
- When requested, APD personnel will attend your meetings to answer questions about crime and provide information about preventative measures.
Coordinate your first meeting
Set the meeting date and time that is convenient for your neighbors as well as the APD representative that will be attending. If you are anticipating a small group, consider having the meeting at a neighborhood house.
- Distribute nametags/introductions
- Make opening remarks
- Provide simple refreshments to create a relaxed atmosphere.
The APD technician or officer will cover the following:
- Crime prevention tips.
- Specific crime problems in the area.
- How residents can become the Department's "eyes and ears" and assist them with criminal investigations.
- How to report a crime and what to look for when providing a description.
Select a Block Captain.
The role of the Block Captain is to:
- Oversee and arrange Neighborhood Watch meetings.
- Be a spokesperson for the group.
- Serve as a liaison between APD and the Neighborhood Watch group.
- Recruit neighbors to share the responsibility of hosting meetings.
- Maintain a list of all members.
- Designate work assignments such as enrolling new members, vacation home watch, block parents, neighborhood patrol, fund-raising, secretarial duties, developing and maintaining block maps and crime prevention material distribution.
If the Block Captain resigns or passes the responsibility, notify APD.
Develop and distribute maps
A map will help members give APD precise information when reporting suspicious activity in your neighborhood.
- Identify the Block Captain(s).
- Provide the name and addresses of homes and identify the ones with burglar alarms.
- Identify seniors and/or neighbors with health or mobility problems who may need special attention.
- List the make, model and license plate numbers of vehicles at each home. Help neighbors by letting them know which vehicles belong there during daytime hours.
- Update and reissue maps when any information changes.
Gather and share information.
Knowing more about your neighbors, their vehicles, and their daily routines will help you recognize unusual or suspicious activities. Consider exchanging the following types of basic information with your neighbors:
- Home and work telephone numbers.
- Names, ages, and the number of family members or residents.
- Work hours.
- School or day-care hours of children.
- Planned vacations or visitors.
- Scheduled deliveries or repairs.
MAINTAINING A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH PROGRAM
After your Neighborhood Watch is established, be sure everyone understands and observes the following guidelines:
- Be alert to unusual or suspicious behavior in your neighborhood. Write down descriptions of suspicious person(s) and license numbers and call APD when necessary.
- Tell a trusted neighbor if your house will be unoccupied for an extended period.
- Look after your neighbor’s homes when they are away and ask them to look after yours. This includes picking up mail, newspapers and storing trashcans or recycling bins.
- Remember your job is to report the crime, leave the apprehending of criminals to the police.
Eyewitness information is the key to solving many crimes. The following tips will assist you when reporting a crime to the APD.
Tell dispatchers/officers as much as you can. You may be asked the following when reporting a crime:
- Who, What, When, and Where?
- How many suspects were there?
- Can you describe the suspect(s)?
- Can you describe their vehicle(s)?
- What was/were the license plate number(s)?
- What did they do?
- What did they say?
- What did they take?
- Which way did they go?
Remember due to our emergency call load, APD prioritizes their responses based on apparent danger to human life. Officers will arrive as soon as possible. Do not attempt to stop or detain the suspect(s) yourself.
What is suspicious?
Anything that seems even slightly "out of place" or is occurring at an unusual time of day or night could be criminal activity. The following are some obvious things to watch for:
- A stranger entering your neighbor’s house when it is unoccupied.
- A scream heard anywhere might mean robbery or assault.
- Offers of merchandise at ridiculously low prices may mean stolen property.
- Anyone removing accessories, license plates, or gas from a vehicle should be reported.
- Anyone peering into parked vehicles.
- Persons checking car door handles.
- Persons entering or leaving a place of business after hours.
- A sound of breaking glass or loud explosive noises.
- Persons loitering around schools, parks and secluded areas.
- Persons loitering in the neighborhood who do not live there.
- Anyone forcing entry to, or tampering with a residence, business, or vehicle should be reported.
To aid in the success of your Neighborhood Watch we have provided a suspect and vehicle description form to assist when reporting a crime.
Suspect & Vehicle Description Form(PDF, 994KB)