What is a Neighborhood Watch program?
A typical Neighborhood Watch block extends from intersection to intersection, both sides of the street. It not only breaks down the barriers and brings neighbors together, but it has proven to reduce crime in an area.
The neighbors are invited to attend a presentation put on by the Community Police Services Unit. The presentation is on residential and vehicle security, personal safety, and an overview of what the Salinas Police Department offers its citizens. Neighborhood Watch signs are then posted to identify the block.
No one person or law enforcement agency can be aware of every situation that occurs in a neighborhood at all times. That's why neighbors are the best defense against crime! To help build strong neighborhood crime prevention networks, the Salinas Police Department sponsors Neighborhood Watch.
Crime and the opportunity for crime go hand-in-hand. Neighborhood Watch reduces the opportunity for crime in your neighborhood. By implementing basic crime prevention techniques, watching out for one another and reporting suspicious activity to police, neighbors create a unified front against crime. This increases the risk to criminals and decreases the likelihood that a criminal will be successful.
Call the Salinas Police Department. A Police Department representative will help set up a meeting in your neighborhood. The Police Department encourages you to hold Watch meetings in your neighborhood. Meetings can be in a living room, garage, or on a deck or back lawn. Meetings are scheduled about one month in advance and are held Monday through Thursday evenings. Special arrangements can be made for weekend meetings. The Police Department will create a flyer for you, make copies of it and send it to you to distribute to your neighbors. A Police representative will assist and facilitate your Neighborhood Watch meeting.
Define the boundaries of your Neighborhood Watch based on natural geography and visibility/surveillance capabilities. Groups that are too large make it difficult for neighbors to know one another. Large groups also make it difficult for information to flow smoothly and quickly to all residents.
Select a Neighborhood Watch captain for your group. This volunteer will be a liaison between the police department and your neighborhood. The captain should coordinate about 15 households.
Residents need to keep their captain posted on neighborhood occurrences. The captain, in turn, needs to keep other area captains informed. This will allow information to travel quickly and efficiently between Watch groups. The block captain should prepare a map listing the names, addresses, telephone numbers and vehicles belonging to each residence in their Neighborhood Watch. All residents are encouraged to participate in Operation Identification and to post the reflective warning stickers on their front door, patio door and garage door. After a Neighborhood Watch is established, a street-size Neighborhood Watch sign can be put up at the entrance to your neighborhood or block. Signs are available for a nominal cost and the City of Salinas will install them.
Because awareness and involvement are the keys to a successful program, keeping interest high and continuing the group's crime prevention education must be a primary focus of all participants. Duties include:
- Schedule two neighborhood get-togethers a year.
- Act as a liaison between homeowners and the Police Department.
- Invite a representative from the Police Department to address the group on such topics as personal safety, child safety, and G.R.E.A.T.
- Invite a firefighter to address the group and the children of the neighborhood on fire prevention and fire safety.
- Encourage Operation Identification.
- Greet and welcome new neighbors. Invite them to be part of your Watch.
Disseminate information to neighbors such as crime patterns in the area. Also, let others know about neighbors who are on vacation or attending a function listed in the newspaper such as a wedding or funeral.
- Be alert to suspicious activity and report it immediately by dialing 911. Inform the Watch Captain and nearby neighbors of the occurrence.
- Attend neighborhood meetings.
- Talk to your children about Neighborhood Watch.
- Secure your home and personal property.
- Make your home look occupied.
- Use exterior lighting during the evening and light timers throughout the day.
- Participate in Operation Identification.
- Keep garage doors closed and remove personal items from vehicle.
- Keep vehicles locked.
- Have a neighbor pick up your newspaper when you are away and ask them to park in your driveway overnight.
- Tell a neighbor and the block coordinator if you plan to be away so that special attention can be given to your home.