Neighborhood Watch Groups Looking Out for Each Other

It’s often said that safety starts at home—and while many HOAs spend lots of money on sophisticated security and access control systems to protect residents and their property, others opt for lower-tech solutions to neighborhood security and crime prevention.

One such solution is the neighborhood watch organization: a group of concerned citizens coming together to make a commitment to be vigilant and observant and to do what they can in their own community to prevent crimes like vandalism, burglary, theft or even arson.

Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch, Building Watch, CrimeWatch—whatever you choose to call it, its one of the most effective—and least costly—ways to prevent crime. It also can also forge stronger bonds among residents and improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

A History of Result

Even if a building or condo community already employs electronic surveillance cameras and other high-tech security measures, there are always blind spots—and criminals need to know there’s someone watching. Effective as electronic surveillance can be, it can also give an association a false sense of security. According to security professionals, prevention methods work best when different approaches are combined; a surveillance system only functions in certain areas, while security guards or roving staff vehicles can’t be everywhere at once. A combination of both technology and real live human eyes and ears can help fill the gaps.

One way to get the human element involved is by implementing a watch program in your building or association. “In New York, neighborhood watch programs started in the early 1970s’ and was originally started by the National Sheriff’s Association,” explains Sgt. Kern Swoboda of the New York State Police and vice president of the New York State Crime Prevention Coalition. “The program is their baby, they manage it. Any significant changes or policy procedures in regards to managing a neighborhood watch program is managed by the National Sheriff’s Association or the National Association of the Chiefs-of-Police.”

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