How to Report a Crime
In essence, Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program that stresses education and common sense (Stegenga 2000). It teaches citizens how to help themselves by identifying and reporting suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. In addition, it provides citizens with the opportunity to make their neighborhoods safer and improve the quality of life. Neighborhood Watch groups typically focus on observation and awareness as a means of preventing crime and employ strategies that range from simply promoting social interaction and "watching out for each other" to active patrols by groups of citizens (Yin, et al., 1976).
Most neighborhood crime prevention groups are organized around a block or a neighborhood and are started with assistance from a law enforcement agency. Volunteers who donate their time and resources are typically at the center of such programs, since many do not have a formal budget or source of funding. One study (Garofalo and McLeod, 1988) found that most Neighborhood Watches were located in areas that contained high percentages of single-family homes, little or no commercial establishments, and residents who had lived at their current address for more than five years. This study also found that most of the programs used street signs to show the presence of the program to potentially deter any would-be criminals.
All Neighborhood Watches share one foundational idea: that bringing community members together to reestablish control of their neighborhoods promotes an increased quality of life and reduces the crime rate in that area. As Rosenbaum (1988) put it ". . . if social disorganization is the problem and if traditional agents of social control no longer are performing adequately, we need to find alternative ways to strengthen informal social control and to restore a 'sense of neighborhood'". That's precisely what Neighborhood Watch strives to do. In fact, from the earliest attempts to deal with the neighborhood structure as it relates to crime (through the Chicago Area Project of the early 1900s), to modern attempts at neighborhood crime prevention, collective action by residents has proved one of the most effective strategies.
The reason for this effectiveness is rather simple: Involving community members in watch programs decreases opportunities for criminals to commit crime rather than attempting to change their behavior or motivation.
Today's Neighborhood Watch Program is an effective means of crime control and neighborhood cohesiveness. While not all of the programs in place today go by the same name, they all accomplish the same goal: to bring community members together to fight crime. As Minor aptly wrote, "Neighborhood is the key to maintaining successful relationships."
Modeled after Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch takes the "neighbors looking out for neighbors" concept to the commercial level, creating a partnership between business, law enforcement, and other organizations that represent business interests. The Business Watch philosophy is straightforward—Take control of what happens in your business community and lessen your chances of becoming a victim.
Business Watches actively reduces and prevents crime through cooperation and education. Programs vary according to need; however, successful groups adhere to these fundamental steps:
- Promote communication and understanding between law enforcement and business.
- Encourage and enhance cooperation among merchants.
- Teach merchants to crime-proof their own properties, watch over neighboring businesses, and document and report suspicious activity.
- Develop a telephone tree and/or email distribution list to quickly disseminate information about area crime.
- Develop signals to activate in adjacent businesses when someone needs help.
When you start a Business Watch program on your street or block, or within your shopping center or mall, you take an important step toward a safer environment for yourself, your employees, your customers—and your community as a whole. In addition to reducing crime, Business Watch offers many other benefits, including opportunities to
Network with other area businesses.
Foster a good working rapport with area law enforcement.
Offer employee training and education.
Garner publicity and community goodwill or your establishment.
Park Watch is a crime prevention program for your neighborhood park. Like a neighborhood crime watch, it helps provide youths, adults and senior citizens with information to eradicate crime, drugs and gangs from our parks. You are the solution; your eyes and ears are a valuable crime prevention tool.
Because residents know their community parks best, they are better to spot strangers who are acting suspicious or situations that "just don't look right." A concerned community can stop crime by simply reporting crime in the making to the police or park officials. By getting to know your parks and practicing a few rules and safety tips that we provide for you, can make for a safe and enjoyable experience.
CERT - Community Emergency Response Teams
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
from: FEMA, CERT