What Neighborhood Watch is
Neighborhood Watch is simply a program of neighbors watching out for each other during the workday, evenings, vacations or any other absence. The purpose of the Neighborhood Watch program is to create an alert neighborhood by using simple crime prevention methods. The program works through the mutual aid of neighbors watching the property of other neighbors. This has several advantages, including the fact that your neighbors know who you are, what type of car you drive, and who belongs, as a rule, at your residence. A patrol officer driving by your home might not recognize someone as a stranger in your yard. However, an alert neighbor would recognize the person as a stranger. They could then call 9-1-1 to alert police of the suspicious activity. Neighborhood Watch does not promote vigilantism. Members of Neighborhood Watch groups are never asked to put themselves in harm’s way to prevent crime. They should only observe and report suspicious activities to the Police Department. This leaves the responsibility for confronting and apprehending criminals where it belongs—with your Newnan Police Officers.
How to get started
Talk to the neighbors on your street, block, or cul-de-sac. You should decide on a date(s) when your group will hold its first meeting. Neighborhood Watch meetings are held on weeknights at around 6:30 p.m., as a rule. Contact Newnan Police Department 770-254-2355 to schedule your meeting with a patrol officer. Please plan to schedule your meeting four to six weeks in advance.
The typical first meeting of a Neighborhood Watch group will include discussion of Neighborhood Watch and Home Security. To qualify for the installation of a Neighborhood Watch sign on your block or street, at least half (50%) of the households must attend the meeting and complete the recommended home security measures. A "block map," which includes at least the names and addresses of each member, should be made and distributed to each member. This map should be kept in a safe place near the telephone to aid in reporting suspicious activities to police. To maintain status as an active Neighborhood Watch group, the group must have a meeting at least once a year with a member of the Newnan Police Department. Of course, Neighborhood Watch groups are encouraged to get together as often as they wish for block parties, BBQs, neighborhood cleanups, etc.
Keeping it together
Now that you have your group formed, how do you keep the members interested and involved? One of the best aspects of an active Neighborhood Watch group is the opportunity it affords neighbors to get to know each other. Effective Neighborhood Watch groups hold block parties, BBQs, or other social and holiday events in addition to their annual meetings. These activities give neighbors a chance to meet and get to know each other. These events can be used to include new residents and introduce them to the neighbors. These activities help develop a sense of community among neighbors. Neighbors are much more likely to notice and report something amiss at the home of someone they know as opposed to someone they don't.
Effective Neighborhood Watch groups maintain their "block maps" and assure that all members have one available. These maps, which list members’ names and addresses, are invaluable when reporting activity to police. Members of effective groups also stay in touch with each other and share information on criminal activity in the neighborhood so everyone is aware of what is going on. The members also work together to solve neighborhood problems which might arise such as speeding vehicles, lack of lighting, etc. Involving your group in these activities will help keep the interest and activity level high. Experience has shown that the greater the involvement and interest of the neighborhood residents the more effective the group will be in achieving its primary goal, which is making the neighborhood a safer, more attractive place to live.