Here are the results of our session last night talking about how to form more Neighborhood Watches in the Foothills Area Command, how to prevent Neighborhood Watch groups from dying on the vine, ideas to better support the existing Block Captains and the attendee’s number one crime concerns.
Ideas on how to form more Neighborhood Watch groups:
- Spread the word (dog walks, in the park, walking the block, etc.).
- Telephone tree: some people don’t like email or even check emails.
- Social media communication (where are the young people?! Need to draw them in to be involved, stake-holders too and often retired or older people are the only ones involved in neighborhood issues).
- com – use their maps to target areas who could use a Neighborhood Watch group.
- Explain to neighboring blocks without a Neighborhood Watch that by their block starting up a N.Watch it helps the other blocks with N.Watch AND their block as well – power in numbers, more trained eyes on the area, etc.
- Social events
- Renters: include them and emphasize (whether they are there for 6 months or a year or two) that they also have a vested interest in community safety and crime.
- Contact with others with same interests via City Council District Coalitions of Neighborhoods, other meetings that attract people with similar interests.
Why do the existing Neighborhood Watch groups fizzle out?
- FTR: Failure to Report – take a lax approach to calling 242-COPS and contacting the Block Captain (BC) once the group is set up; assume someone else will notice/call.
- Problems getting neighbors to share their phone/emails with each other – seem afraid they’ll be bombarded or the info will be shared inappropriately.
- Daily posts from a Block Captain can be scary – too much bad news without tips or solutions or recommendations?
- Over-expectations of a Block Captain: report my crime incident for me, complaining about crime to the BC as if they are supposed to take on responsibility for crime activity, too much block to be responsible for as a BC and no Co-Captain to break it down into manageable pieces.
- No BC steps forward – did the Starter Kit, the Facilitation meeting, got the minimum 50% homes on the block there and no one wants to be BC.
- BC title or role seen as ‘nosy neighbor’ or the BC may overstep their bounds/the role as point of contact. BC title may even be too intimating — implies they are ‘official’ and could be changed to more ‘friendly’ type of title more suitable for the role.
- 50% minimum homes on the block required at Facilitation meeting seems too tough – why is that rule used by APD Crime Prevention if it is not used at a national level?
- Done so much work with Starter Kit, hosting Facilitation meeting, getting a BC and now you want me to pay for two signs? You give away multiple Crime Free signs paid for by tax dollars to private properties with budgets and petty cash accounts, yet want to charge citizens for Neighborhood Watch signs after they’ve jumped through multiple hoops already.
How do we (citizens, NAs/HOAs, N.Watch members, APD) better support the Block Captains?
- On the contact lists for existing N.Watches try listing the dogs/cats (names, breed) and the cars the family drives. At least if neighbors don’t know each other personally, they will know to wave or say hello if walking the dog, see each other on the block, etc.
- Start a Safe Haven house program: great for N.Watch groups that live near schools. A trusted neighbor who is home during school start and end times can walk outside, sit on the porch or be watering the yard and keep an eye on children walking/bicycling to school or home from school and be known as a Safe Haven if there is trouble.
- Young families: We need more young families to get involved!
- Emails – connecting.
- Have a social block event/party to keep up the engagement.
What is your #1 crime concern?
- Mail box theft
- APD is short handed
- APD does not provide follow-up to the citizen’s input
- Auto burglaries
- Auto thefts
- Vacant homes
- Homelessness creeping into the neighborhoods; sometimes at vacant homes
- Vandalism at parks (Manzano Mesa Park in particular)
- Drag racing
Thanks again to everyone who helped with the set up, sign-in table, snacks, sharing ideas and keeping the brainstorming and exchanges flowing.
Jill Garcia, Crime Prevention Specialist / ICPS, NCPS – APD, Foothills Area Command