One of the best reasons to live in multi-family housing is the safety factor. Your neighbors are close, the property is monitored, and the traffic is low. However, with all of the things keeping apartment residents safe, things such as robberies and car break-ins still occur.
One way to combat crime in your apartment community is to start a good old-fashioned neighborhood watch!
Starting a neighborhood watch is easier than you would think, especially in an apartment community. Below we give you a game plan of how to start your very own watch to keep your community safer and more united!
Step 1: Make a List!
As with anything, the first place to start is to make a list of the things you are going to need. We have already done that for you below:
_ A person or group of people committed to starting a Neighborhood Watch.
_ A planning committee to initiate the program.
_ A list of what issues initially need to be addressed in your community.
_ A means of communicating with the residents, e-mail, fliers, telephone trees.
_ Publicity for the initial Neighborhood Watch meeting.
_ A meeting agenda to keep things moving and on track.
_ A place to meet-resident’s house or apartment, community center, school, library.
_ A crime prevention officer to discuss the crime issues in the neighborhood and to help train members.
_ A map of the community with spaces for names, addresses, and phone numbers of all households.
_ A sign-up sheet for those interested in becoming block or building captains for each building.
_ Brochures or other materials on topics of interest to the residents.
_ Neighborhood Watch signs to be posted around the community. Some jurisdictions require a minimum
_ Number of participants before Neighborhood Watch signs can be posted.
_ Facts about crime in your neighborhood. (These can be found in police reports, newspapers, and residents’ perception about crime. Often residents’ opinions are not supported by facts, and accurate information can reduce fear of crime.)
Step 2: Let The Residents Know It’s Coming
Send an email or place signs around the community that a neighborhood watch is forming. Allow residents to sign up if they are interested in participating.
Step 3: Hold Your First Meeting
Once you get an idea of how many people want to be involved you can choose your location and hold your first meeting. Email the residents that signed up when and where the meeting will be and post signs around the community about the meeting. You want to make sure everyone feels included and has a chance to participate.
At the first meeting you will take input from the participants about the following things:
Building (or “Block”) Captains
Frequency of meetings
Protocol for reporting suspicious behavior
Existing concerns of the residents
Step 4: Be Consistent
No matter what the level of participation your neighborhood watch group decides on, make sure that meetings are held at least every month. People get very excited about things in the beginning and then taper off as interest dissipates. Regular meetings will make sure the protocols are being followed through when suspicious activity is spotted which will help ensure your community stays as safe as possible. Plus new people may show up every month to replace those that don’t!
For more information on starting a neighborhood watch please visit the National Crime Prevention Council HERE.