Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program that stresses education and common sense. 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.
All Neighborhood Watches share one foundational idea: that bringing community members together to re-establish control of their neighborhoods promotes an increased quality of life and reduces the crime rate in that area. 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.
This has been an effective program because it simply involves community members in watch programs, which 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 of bringing community members together to fight crime.
USA on Watch:
Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and best-known crime prevention concepts in North America. In the late 1960s, an increase in crime heightened the need for a crime prevention initiative focused on residential areas and involving local citizens. The National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) responded, creating the National Neighborhood Watch program in 1972 to assist citizens and law enforcement.
In 2002, the NSA in partnership with USA Freedom Corps, Citizen Corps and the U.S. Department of Justice launched USAonWatch®, the face of the revitalized National Neighborhood Watch initiative, which represents the expanded role of watch programs beyond their traditional crime prevention role to help neighborhoods focus on disaster preparedness, emergency response and so much more.
Starting a Neighborhood Watch:
Register your watch in 5 easy steps:
- Recruit and organize as many neighbors as possible
- Contact your local law enforcement agency and schedule a meeting
- Discuss community concerns and develop an action plan
- Hold regular meetings and train
- Implement a phone tree and take action steps
Click here for more information about starting a Neighborhood Watch program.
Neighborhood Watch Training
Find a Neighborhood Watch
Frequently Asked Questions