The number one question we get asked is “How do I start a Neighbourhood Watch program?”
The answer isn’t as easy as you may think. It depends on what a Neighbourhood Watch program means to you? It depends on what type of involvement you want to have? What type of commitment are you willing to make? Are you wanting to make a difference yourself or are you hoping that someone else will?
These questions are hard to answer without knowing what your options are. So, let’s start with the basics.
Neighbourhood Watch programs are volunteer based. They are about people being involved in their neighbourhoods and being proactive against crime. It is crime prevention FOR the community BY the community.
Get to Know Your Neighbours
Getting to know your neighbours is vital. Not just 2 or 3 people on your street, get to know the majority of the people who live around and near you. You don’t need to become best friends but knowing each other by name and feeling comfortable enough to knock on a neighbours door can change your neighbourhood. Neighbours who know one another look out for one another.
You can jump in and arrange a meeting of your neighbours. You can gather at someone’s place and talk about recent crime or concerns. You can go door-to-door and ask them if they are interested in a neighbourhood watch program. However you will likely find that most people are apprehensive, especially if they don’t know you. That’s why all ENW programs have a component in which we help foster neighbours getting to know one another.
We recommend a Block Party as an excellent way to meet your neighbours. If you hold an ENW Block Party, not only will you get to know your neighbours but you will be able to share some crime prevention information with them that will help create a safer neighbourhood. In addition we connect organizers with other available resources and provide give-aways from program partners like the Edmonton Police Service and Save-On Foods. We will help you access the variety of resources that you may not know are available to you.
We recommend that you register for Walk Your Block. This program gets residents walking in their own neighbourhood. It is not an organized patrol… it is simply taking a walk where you live. Say hello to neighbours, get to know who and what belongs on your street and be visible. Crime is significantly reduced where community residents are visibly present and are actively involved on their streets and in their neighbourhoods. Crimes don’t take place where criminals can be observed. The more you walk, the less likely your neighbourhood will have criminal activity. If you walk your dog, take daily walks/runs, or even walk to the park with your children; you are already doing most of this program. Now you only have to register (just once) and then log each of your walks (it takes only a minute). It’s simple:
- Be friendly
- Be aware
- Report suspicious activities to the police at 780-423-4567
- Log your walk
By logging your walks you help ENW along with the Edmonton Police Service identify areas where residents are involved and where we can look at how the program is affecting crime.
Make a Difference in Your Community?
ENW operates with a volunteer Board of Directors and less than 2 staff members servicing the entire City of Edmonton. You might ask, how could that work? It works because of the dedicated volunteers in the community who become ENW Community Reps. A Community Rep is a member of ENW and a member of their community league. The Community Rep is someone endorsed, elected or appointed by their community league board to become the Neighbourhood Watch Community Rep. ENW provides the Community Reps with everything to become the local Neighbourhood Watch “expert” so that they can help their community and get others involved and practicing crime prevention strategies. For the Community Rep, ENW provides the resources to help them in that role:
- An initial training class and ongoing training sessions
- A supply of resources such as handouts, brochures, and info cards from both ENW and the Edmonton Police Service
- Lending materials such as identification tags, lanyards, stand-up banners, lawn signs, displays and more for use during door-to-door campaigns or community events
- One on one access with ENW staff and volunteers to help support the Community Rep in their role at the community league level
In addition, some programs are only available to community leagues who have an ENW Community Rep who can lead the community-level programs such as.
- Neighbourhood Sign Program
- Door Sticker program (new February 1, 2016)
In some cases, a community league many have a “Neighbourhood Watch Rep” listed however only those listed on our website have an official Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch program. Check our website for to see if your community league has one.
If your community league is not listed, we encourage you to contact the president and volunteer to be an ENW Community Rep for your area.
If your community league is listed, get in touch with your Community Rep to get involved. Check out the league website for contact information, email the community league president or send ENW a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Community Rep can help you access the programs and resources available and together start creating a safer neighbourhood where you live.
Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW