Every year on the first Tuesday of August we gather as a community to discuss the necessity of community involvement groups that go beyond the police to help protect residential neighborhoods. We live in an age in which it is possible to communicate with someone across the globe instantly and share live video with millions.
By leveraging this miracle of technology, alongside traditional community partnerships, it is possible to help protect your neighbors, and your family, from any criminal element that may stalk your streets. Your groups can be used to protect homes alongside the women and children that live in them every day.
Know Your Neighbors
Being aware of what is normal for your neighborhood is half of the battle when it comes to keeping the streets safe. Take the time to meet all of your neighbors and discuss each other’s schedules and habits. With knowledge comes the ability to spot what is out of the ordinary.
Everything from an open door to smoke from the back yard (if the neighbor doesn’t burn anything) should warrant a response. It may appear to be a bit noisy, though if it means the difference between a successful robbery and a couple of crooks going to jail… Here are some common things to keep an eye out for:
- Unusual vehicles in driveway
- Service vehicles for utilities a neighbor isn’t receiving (i.e., cable guy with a satellite repair truck)
- Strangers “walking” the neighborhood frequently
- Unusual activity at the house
Know and Utilize Your Support Network
Knowing who you can and should reach out to when trouble strikes are often the other half of the battle. Take the time to sit down with your friends and family to make certain that everyone has each other’s contact list. If you regularly socialize together, consider creating common chat rooms or sharing a calendar so that your closest friends and loved ones know instantly when you are not where you want to be.
These lines of communication can easily grow into community watches, providing an additional level of security beyond the police. Talk with your friends and neighbors to see how you can put your eyes and cell phones to good use! Here are some good communication channels you should consider tapping into:
- Group skype chats
- Community facebook page
- Phone trees (old fashioned but still reliable)
- Mass email lists
Parents routinely form a myriad of contact methods with their children and other families. See if these contact lists can be grown into a de-facto neighborhood watch list. After all, it is vastly easier to expand a structure that is already well established than to expect people to adapt to a new one!
Serve as the Warning Siren for Law Enforcement
While there are a large number of incidents involving under trained police harming members of the public in the media, it is important to remember that the vast majority are well trained and respectful of individuals rights. You should never be too afraid to call the police or your local neighborhood watch if you believe a crime may be about to be committed. Here are some tips to make contacting the police easier:
- Enable voice activation on your phone (Siri Call 911)
- Keep the sheriff’s number on speed dial
- Always make note of where you are (Highway Marker, Street Corner)
- Try to know the name of everyone you are with
- Take photos whenever possible
Remember – the police are counting on members of the community to be their eyes and ears. If you see something wrong, report it immediately. You just may save someone’s life or home! Take the time this August 2nd to walk the streets of your community with friends, loved ones, and neighbors to see how easy it is for you to help make your community a safer place for women, children, and the elderly.