Neighborhood Watch Programs

Worried about crime in your neighborhood?

You’re not alone.  Most likely, your neighbors are concerned, too.  Crime can create a climate of fear and mistrust.  People may withdraw into their homes. 

As isolation increases, so does crime.
Crime thrives in neighborhoods where residents keep to themselves and don’t get involved.

But, you don’t have to put up with crime!  You can help take back your neighborhood.
You can:

Work with law enforcement
The Baytown Police Department is very interested in the success of your neighborhood Watch Program.  Some of the services we offer to support your program include:

  • Operation I.D.
  • Personal Safety Programs
  • Crime Prevention Programs
  • Crime Stoppers
  • D.A.R.E.
  • Child Safety Programs
  • Home Security Surveys

Get others involved.
Neighbors are often the first to spot problems—and best able to carry out possible solutions.  Police officers can’t be everywhere at once.  They can always use extra eyes watching for unusual activity.  

Form a Neighborhood Watch Program
A criminal’s job gets a lot tougher in a neighborhood where people are looking out for each other.

How does a Neighborhood Watch work?
It works by showing residents they are not powerless against crime.  It does this through:

Crime-prevention training
A Watch group can help residents learn ways to keep their homes and neighborhood secure.  For example, the group can invite police or security experts to speak.

Improving conditions
Neighborhood neglect invites crime.  To turn the situation around, a Watch group can:
  1. Lead a drive to clean up the neighborhood
  2. Work through local government to get abandoned buildings and vacant lots fixed up.

Have a Texas Night Out block party
Texas Night Out is a perfect opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other.   


Getting Started

Form a planning committee.
Keep it small and informal.  You only need 3-5 people at first.  Discuss the need for a neighborhood program.  Don’t get carried away.  You want a small group of neighbors that you mutually trust – not a group of strangers too large to know each other by name.

Survey the neighborhood.

Find out what the problems are.  A few weeks before the start-up meeting, visit your neighbors and explain that you are starting a NW program for your neighborhood.  Ask about crime concerns or other local issues they may have.  They may also provide you with information on suspicious activity in the area, or things like overgrown lots and malfunctioning street lights.

Get an indication from them of the best time, date and place for a meeting.  Explain that this start-up meeting will have to be coordinated with the other neighbors and your local police department.   Inform them of the benefits of having such a program and that you will welcome them to the start-up meeting.  Also explain that the start-up meeting will probably be a few weeks away.  For best results hold the meeting in a home in the immediate neighborhood.

Notify Police Department
After determining the best time and day of the week for the meeting, contact the Baytown Police Department Crime Prevention Division at 281-422-5152.  They may be able to provide an officer to attend your meeting and help to get started.  It is important to contact them at least two weeks in advance.  Schedule the officer to arrive a half hour after the meeting begins so that Block Captains can be elected and information about the program can be distributed. 

Invite neighbors to a meeting
A week in advance of the meeting, give Participants a flyer with the day, date and time of the start-up meeting as well as the location and the name of their neighbor who will host the start-up meeting.  Try to make personal contact with every potential member.  Seek help from the neighbors you contact.  They can provide folding chairs or refreshments, escort seniors to the meeting, or they can assist you with organizing and networking.  Getting them involved early secures their commitment. 

Call and contact each prospective Participant two days in advance of the meeting to remind them of the meeting date, time and place.  Remind them that refreshments will be served…turnout improves when refreshments are available.

First Start-up Meeting

  1. Have name tags for each neighbor.  This will enable them to know each other by name.
  2. Have refreshments, name tags and seating ready at least fifteen minutes before the meeting time.
  3. Give your neighbors a chance to socialize a little before the meeting begins.
  4. Prepare and review the agenda.
  5. Have everyone introduce themselves, telling the group which dwelling they live in.
  6. Encourage everyone to join the discussion with questions and comments.
  7. Have participants fill out a Family Data Sheet for their residence that can be used in a NW directory.  Useful information would be address, names and ages of residents, vehicles regularly parked at residence, resident’s phone numbers and emergency contact phone numbers.   This will help other neighbors to recognize strange cars or people and enable them to notify of any unusual activity.  Copies of this directory can be distributed to participants only.  Assign someone to collect the Family Data Sheets. 
  8. Elect officers.  Avoid having 1 or 2 people do all the work.  Your group could have:
    A “Watch Coordinator” to help lead the group and interface with police department
    “Block Captains” to represent individual neighborhood blocks
    “Social Director” to set up social events, handle arrangements and refreshments for future meetings
    Separate committees to address specific issues or task

Promote group identity
Give your group a name.  It can help create a sense of common purpose.

Typical Meeting Agenda

Information Sharing
  1.  Discuss area’s strengths, weaknesses and problems.
  2.  Distribute updated Family Data Sheets.

Suspicious Activity
  1. Review when you call 911 and when you call the police business number.  Emphasize calling, without hesitation, if they see or hear anything suspicious.

  2. Discuss any problems in the area.

Home Security
  1. Discuss security measures that can be taken.
  2. See who needs help with lock installation, tree trimming, installing outside lights, etc.
  3. Discuss the use of signage for both street and individual property.  Discuss use of window labels and decals.

Property Engraving/Protection

  1. Explain how best to mark and inventory property.  Engravers may be checked out from the Baytown Police Department Crime Prevention Division at 220 W. Defee St.  You may call 281-422-5152 for more information.
  2. Suggest that participants video tape or take pictures of their residence and belongings. 
  3. Distribute window decals which are available from National Neighborhood Watch Institute at http://www.nnwi.org/  or phone 1-888-669-4872.
  4. Collect donations to purchase signs.  Decide where the signs should go.

Wrap-up
1. Decide on time and place of next meeting.  Consider whether your group should meet monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc. 
2.Choose someone to handle refreshments if you don’t have a “Social Director”

Follow-up Meetings

Having gained the initial enthusiasm, keep it going by getting together periodically.  Groups in higher crime areas may want to meet monthly.  Frequent meetings allow your neighbors a chance to become more familiar with one another.  This makes it harder for a stranger to go undetected.

Make a strong effort to get the families in your neighborhood who are not already Participants to become involved.

If you did not already pass out the NNWI Window Warning decals, do so at this meeting.

Make the meeting meaningful at the same time being considerate of your neighbor’s time.  Keep the meetings to 90 to 120 minutes.

A quarterly pot-luck based on the season of the year is a good excuse for the group to get together.  It encourages the attitude in your street and window signs, “We Look Out For Each Other!”

Use your Neighborhood Watch group to organize other activities such as tool exchanges, garage sales and community gardens.  Help each other trim shrubbery, install lighting or smoke detectors, paint street numbers on the curb, have street lights installed or hundreds of other community activities.  Consider escorting seniors to the store with you and have them watching the neighborhood kids.  Get everyone involved in your neighborhood and improve the quality of life while protecting each other.

Meeting Topics

Our reason for existence, “We Look Out For Each Other!”, is best achieved by becoming better acquainted at regularly scheduled Neighborhood Watch meetings.  These meetings help to educate you and your neighbors about subjects that should be of concern to the group.  There are many resources that are available to your Neighborhood Watch group from the Federal, State and Local levels.  Your Baytown Police Crime Prevention officer can offer you information on many topics, including:

  1. Personal Safety
  2. Self Defense
  3. Child Safety
  4. Gangs
  5. Drugs
  6. Vandalism Prevention
  7. Victim-Witness Services
  8. Annoying Phone Calls
  9. Observation Skills
  10. Bicycle Safety
  11. Fraud and Con Games
  12. Larceny Prevention
  13. Safety Tips for Seniors
  14. Auto Safety
  15. Latchkey Kids
  16. ATM Precautions
  17. Car-Jacking
  18. Holiday Precautions
  19. Home Security
  20. Recognizing Substance Abuse
  21. Graffiti Protection

Take an informal survey among your group and decide which are most important.  Set priorities for which subjects will be discussed at which times. Try involving all members of your neighborhood. 

Set out an agenda for each meeting, provide the dates and subjects of each meeting, print it out and distribute it to each Participant two weeks in advance of your meeting.  Call all your participants to remind them two days before your meeting.

Keeping Your Neighborhood Watch Group Active

Your Neighborhood Watch Group will have high interest at the start-up and for a few meetings thereafter.   The real trick is keeping the group actively going and involving all the neighbors for years.  Here is a list of ideas to help you have regular activities, in which all the participants have fun, socialize and attempt to solve neighborhood problems.  These really take the motto, “We look out for each other!” to its fulfillment.

Information Sharing
Write your own block newsletter.  Keep people up to date on crime or other subjects of interest including the goings-on within your group. 

Block Home
Involve at least one home on the block to serve as a safe haven for kids who are frightened.  Latch key kids are a big problem.  Loneliness of seniors is another problem.  Put them together to get a great solution to both problems.

Block Garage Sale
Buy an ad in the newspaper and post signs advertising your big block-wide garage sale.  Conduct it on the same Saturday and get the whole block involved.  You can even buy each other’s cast-offs so you can have the makings of your next Block Garage Sale.  Don’t forget your permit.

 Block Clean-up
Rent a dumpster for a weekend.  Neighbors can share tools and expertise to help one another.  Cap off the day with a celebration of your achievement.

Disaster Preparedness
Develop plans to cope with disasters such as hurricanes, fires and floods and insure that all the participants have their homes prepared, food and water supplies on hand, and meeting places for their loved ones decided upon.  Check on seniors and make sure plans are in place for them. 

Holiday Dinner Get-Together
Arrange space at a local church or community center for a multi-family celebration.  Share the work and the cost of the meal.  Pot luck dinners are always fun.  Provide home-born entertainment.

Progressive Dinners
Hors d’ouerves at one house, salad at the next, soup at the third, main course at the fourth, and dessert at the fifth.  You really don’t have far to drive, or you can even walk.  Each house provides one course, and the party moves from house to house.  And what a wonderful opportunity to socialize and visit each others homes.  It can even be done outdoors, a “progressive picnic”. 

Card or Game Groups
When was the last time you played bingo, gin rummy, canasta, Monopoly or Scrabble?  How much fun was it?  Get away from the TV and enjoy each other’s company.  And while you’re kibitzing, talk about Neighborhood Watch.

Booster Meeting
Arrange for a speaker to come to your neighborhood Watch meeting.  You can always get a politician who is running for office or just been elected.   You can also get a police officer. 

Telephone Reassurance
Establish a system whereby seniors or shut-ins are telephoned daily to make sure they are all right. 

Senior or Shut-in Assistance
Set a Saturday to help seniors or shut-ins with projects they aren’t able to handle.  Mow the yard, change overhead light bulbs, make small repairs or move heavy objects. 

Neighborhood policing by you and your neighbors, together with your own police creates a greater sense of security, well-being and reduction of fear of crime because you know you and your neighbors will “…look out for each other”.  Police are limited in their available manpower – you add eyes, ears and even noses by your involvement in Neighborhood Watch.

As a community, as an organization already working together as a Neighborhood Watch group, you have the stepping stone needed to getting things done.                Just Do It!

Posting Signs and Stickers:

For the most powerful deterrent of would-be intruders, display signs and stickers prominently, preferably with an outdoor sign at each entrance to the neighborhood as well as other conspicuous locations. Crime Stoppers stickers are available through the Crime Prevention Division of the Baytown Police Department. Individual Neighborhood Watch Programs may order signs and or decals to post in their neighborhoods through Internet address www.nnwi.org. **

**This was compiled for your information from the noted websites and from the Baytown Police Crime Prevention Division resources.  If you have any questions please call the Crime Prevention Division at (281) 422-5152. The Crime Prevention Division is part of the City of Baytown Police Department and there is no cost for our services or assistance.  Thanks for your time, and GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR PROGRAM!!!

References

  1. www.usaonwatch.org
  2. www.nnwi.org
  3. Neighborhood Watch Programs Information Booklet
  4. Baytown Police Community Services Bureau

Groups In Your Area

The following is a list of the Neighborhood Watch / Civic Association Groups in the City of Baytown as of January, 2009.

Allenbrook Civic Association

    • Meeting Schedule:

Bay Oaks Harbor Civic Association

    • Meeting Schedule:

Cedar Bend

    • Meeting Schedule:

Central Heights

    • Meeting Schedule:

Chaparral Village

    • Meeting Schedule: Scheduled when needed
    • Meeting Location: Wayne Gray Sports Complex

Country Club Estates

    • Meeting Schedule: 4th Thursday each month
    • Meeting Location: Varies

Country Club Oaks

    • Meeting Schedule: Scheduled when needed
    • Meeting Location: unknown at this time

Craigmont, Decker Terrace, Ponderosa

    • Meeting Schedule: As needed
    • Meeting Location: Senior Softball Park (Summer Months)
    • 220 West Defee (Winter Months or bad weather)

Decker Terrace (see Craigmont)

East Bayway (Condominiums)

    • Meeting Schedule:

E.S.W.N.

    • Meeting Schedule:

East Pearce

    • Meeting Schedule:

Fair Park

    • Meeting Schedule: Monthly

F.E.M.B. - Flamenco/Eva Maude/Bowie

    • Meeting Schedule: As needed
    • Meeting Location: Cedar Bayou Methodist Church

Ginger Creek

    • Meeting Schedule:

Glen Arbor / Creekwood

    • Meeting Schedule:

Graywood

    • Meeting Schedule:

Hill Terrace

    • Meeting Schedule:

Holloway Addition

    • Meeting Schedule:

Holly Hills

    • Meeting Schedule:

Kingsbend

    • Meeting Schedule:

Lakewood

    • Meeting Schedule: 2nd Tuesday each month
    • Meeting Location: Varies

Lakewood Estates 

    • Meeting Schedule: Varies
    • Meeting Location: Varies

Lamar Central

    • Meeting Schedule:

Lantern Park

    • Meeting Schedule: When needed
    • Meeting Location: Unknown

La Reforma

    • Meeting Schedule:

Lawndale / Woodlawn

    • Meeting Schedule: 3rd Thursday each month
    • Meeting Location: St. John's Method

Morrell Park

    • Meeting Schedule:

Morrell Park II

    • Meeting Schedule:

 

 

 

 

    • Meeting Schedule:

Oakwood Addition

    • Meeting Schedule:

Old Pelly

    • Meeting Schedule:

Parkridge Bend

    • Meeting Schedule: 1st Thursday each month
    • Meeting Location: Varies 

Pinehurst

    • Meeting Schedule: 3rd Thursday each month
    • Meeting Location: Cedar Bayou Community Building

Plumwood

    • Meeting Schedule: Odd months, 2nd Monday Jan., March, May, etc…
    • Meeting Location: 220 W. Defee

Quailhollow Subdivision

    • Meeting Schedule: Spring & Fall
    • Meeting Location: Quail Hollow Clubhouse

Ridgewood

    • Meeting Schedule:

Roseland Manor

    • Meeting Schedule:

Roseland Oaks

    • Meeting Schedule:

School Courts

    • Meeting Schedule:

Southwest Addition 

    • Meeting Schedule: Bi-monthly,1st Tuesday Jan., March, May, etc…
    • Meeting Location: Missouri St. Church of Christ 

West Baytown

    • Meeting Schedule: 2nd Tuesday each month 6:45 pm
    • Meeting Location: Beteh Baptist Chruch, 2728 Kentucky

Whispering Pines

    • Meeting Schedule: 4th Tuesday each month
    • Meeting Location: Unknown 

Woodlawn

    • Meeting Schedule:

Wooster

    • Meeting Schedule: