Please take a few minutes to read the following information. Neighborhood Watch is a part of the Bellaire Police Department's Safe Neighborhoods Initiative. We strongly believe that the Neighborhood Watch program is effective in making our community safe. Participation in Neighborhood Watch is not a big time commitment on your part. Communities across the country have found the benefits of the program far outweigh the time and effort to start a program. We look forward to meeting with you and your neighbors to discuss the program in greater detail.
What Is Neighborhood Watch?
The National Sheriff's Association is credited with starting the Neighborhood Watch program in the early 1970s as a tactic to address rising crime. The original intent of organizing neighborhoods to work with police has not changed very much in the last 40 years. The basic components of Neighborhood Watch are:
- Neighbors organizing into groups.
- Police working with organized groups to educate citizens on crime prevention tactics such as recognizing suspicious activity, learning how to secure your home, learning how to be safe in public places, and so on.
- Neighbors knowing each other and watching out for each other.
- Neighbors reporting suspicious activity to police immediately.
- Development of communication systems between the Police Department and neighbors that allow for a more timely exchange of information.
What Are The Limitations on Neighborhood Watch?
Neighborhood Watch programs can be simple or very involved. It is up to the participants to determine the extent of their group's activity. With that said, there are some things that a Neighborhood Watch program is not.
- It is not a vigilante force or an organization that works outside the structure of the Bellaire Police Department.
- It is not a program where members take personal risk to deter crime. Members report crimes in progress, they never intervene.
- A program that guarantees that crime will never happen in your neighborhood.
What Would Be Expected of You?
Participating in Neighborhood Watch does not take a lot of your time, even if you serve as the contact person for your group. You really wouldn't be doing much more than most people are doing now, just being a little more attentive to your surroundings and quickly reporting suspicious activity to the Bellaire Police. Besides this, participants are asked to:
- Attend an informational start-up meeting and share your contact information with your neighbors. Learn how to improve the security of your family, home, and property.
- Register on-line with the Neighborhood Watch website that will be selected for use by the Bellaire Police Department to forward information between your group's contact person and the Police Department. Additional information related to the website will be provided at your group's start up meeting.
- Participate as may be possible in any future meetings your group has or you may choose to attend one of the Police Departments Community Meetings held during the summer and winter each year.
- Most of all, report suspicious activity or criminal activity you may observe.
How Can I Find Out About Crime In My Neighborhood?
Go to Bellaire Police Department website and on the left hand side you will see a pull down menu. You can research crime under the tabs Crime Profiles, Crime Maps, or Crime Call Search.
What About Neighborhood Watch Signs?
Most Neighborhood Watch programs have signs that are placed in neighborhoods where there are active programs. Many people believe these signs deter criminals from coming into a neighborhood. There are some criminals that are deterred by knowing that there is an increased chance of being reported in certain neighborhoods. Let's be realistic about this for a minute, if all it took was signs, all we would have to do it put signs up and we'd be done.
The signs work in two ways. First, they do show that the neighborhood actively participates and will report suspicious activity and second, it reminds people in a neighborhood that they are encouraged as well as responsible for reporting suspicious activity. On the left is the traditional Neighborhood Watch sign that has been used in the past.
We do intend to have signs in the Bellaire Neighborhood Watch program, but many believe that there are too many signs in our neighborhoods already. With that in mind, the Bellaire Police Department is considering what is known as "topper" street signs for Bellaire's Neighborhood Watch Program. A topper street sign is one that you may have seen in historical districts, theater districts, and such. (see the photo on the right) These signs go on top of existing street signs and convey a message without being distracting or adding to sign clutter. These signs have not been designed yet.
What Is The Next Step?
The next steps are pretty straight forward:
- Determine interest on your block, street, or neighborhood. We do not intend to have as strict requirements on group size as some of the national programs recommend, but we will need a representative percentage of an area being organized. The Bellaire Police Department is willing to start with smaller groups and expand.
- Identify a person that is willing to serve as a contact person for your group.
- The group's contact person will then call Officer John Edwards at 713-662-8103 or contact him via email and discuss the program. A start-up meeting will be scheduled where the program is reviewed in greater detail.
That's it, simple and to the point. We look forward to hearing from you and your neighbors!