A Community Approach To Crime Prevention
The St. Helena Parish Sherff's Department encourages neighborhoods to participate in Neighborhood Watch programs sponsored by the Sheriff's Department. The information below explains how Neighborhood Watch works and how to organize and maintain a successful program. Neighborhood Watch was created to obtain citizen involvement in discouraging and preventing residential crime. The program uses citizen involvement to secure their own homes and personal property and to report any suspicious activity to the sheriff's office.
National Neighborhood Crime Facts
Household burglary is one of the easiest crimes to commit and prevent but one of the hardest to solve.
Over one-half of deputy time is spent on investigating burglaries.
Household burglary is one of the most rapidly increasing major crimes in the nation.
Many home burglars are young amateurs looking for easy targets.
Statistics show that in over one-quarter of household burglaries there was not any forced entry involved.
A majority of household burglaries occur during daylight hours.
Household burglary has a high potential for death or injury in cases where a burglar is surprised by the property owner.
How Neighborhood Watch Works
Neighborhood Watch operates to educate participants in the principles of deterrence, delay, and detection. The program depends on a communication network between residents and it's local law enforcement officers. Vigilante actions are in no way condoned by the Neighborhood Watch program. No one is asked to take personal risk or be a hero.
Organizing a Program
First, visit your neighbors and tell them you are interested in discouraging crime in the neighborhood. Ask them for help toward this goal. Secondly, organize a neighborhood meeting and contact the St. Helena Sherff's Office to have the sheriff or someone he has appointed to address the group or be present to answer questions. The meeting can be held at a residence in the neighborhood or at some place large enough to hold the attendees. The Sheriff's Office will require a healthy representation of participating residents to qualify for the program.
At the meeting the group should select community captains and co-captains to organize the program. Community captains may prepare a listing of names, addresses, phone numbers and email contacts as well as emergency contact numbers for participants on their block. Copies should be distributed to each participating household.
Since awareness and involvement are the keys to a successful program, keeping interest high and continuing the group's crime prevention education must be a primary focus of all participants. Specific duties include:
Schedule periodic group meetings (at least every six months), and encourage each homeowner to attend.
Act as a liaison between homeowners and the sheriff's office.
Invite a deputy to address the group and share information on such topics as home security, identity theft, personal security and crimes against the elderly.
Contact new neighbors about the program.
Disseminate any special information to the group such as crime patterns in the area, homeowners that are on vacation, or attending a function listed in the newspaper such as attending a wedding or funeral.
Attend the program meetings and read any information that has been isued.
Secure your home and personal property.
Be alert to suspicious activity and report it immediately.
Have your newspaper stopped and mail picked up when away.
Inform your neighbors and community captain if you plan to be away so that special attention can be given to your home.
The Neighborhood Watch is a proven crime reduction program. But, like any self-help activity, its success depends upon you and your neighbor.
For more information about Neighborhood Watch or Crime Watch Programs go to the following website:
USA On Watch
Simple as ABC
A: You see a crime or suspicious activity in your neighborhood.
B: You immediately report what you have observed to the sheriff's department.
C: Police respond to your call and investigate or apprehend the criminal.
The roots of neighborhood crime prevention, including Neighborhood Watch, can be traced back to the Chicago School and its focus on the relationship between the social environment of neighborhood and crime. From the earliest studies on communities and crime, to much more recent works, research has shown that there is a link between areas with high crime rates and neighborhoods characterized by a mix of economics and ethnicity, high levels of population turnover and death, and other physical and economic conditions. Most of this line of research has concluded that crime is higher in "socially disorganized areas" marked by weakened informal control due to an erosion of shared norms. Since law enforcement cannot be in all areas at one time, informal control of residents is necessary if that community is to experience low crime rates. When neighborhoods become disorganized, the people and institutions that once assisted in maintaining standards of behavior no longer hold such status, resulting in a breakdown in informal control. This, in turn, produces high crime rates.
Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and best-known crime prevention concepts in North America. In the late 1960s, an increase in crime heightened the need for a crime prevention initiative focused on residential areas and involving local citizens. The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) responded, creating the National Neighborhood Watch Program in 1972 to assist citizens and law enforcement.
Neighborhood Watch is a citizen’s involvement where citizens, in cooperation with their local law enforcement agency, directly participate in detection and prevention of crime. Basically it is the concept of citizens watching their community.
Neighborhood Watch citizens keep well informed about their neighborhood and of any suspicious, criminal or dangerous activities that may me occurring. They provide valuable information to their local sheriff’s department which in turn investigates suspicious activities, apprehends criminals and prevents crime. Neighborhood Watch can and will make your community a better and safer place to live.
Neighborhood is NOT a group of vigilantes or lawless individuals taking the law into their own hands and do not take the place of their sheriff’s department in enforcing the law or apprehending criminals.
On a national scale there is approximately ONE OFFICER/DEPUTY for every 2,000 CITIZENS. From a practical standpoint, many deputies can not be actively involved in patrolling their community because they may be assigned to other tasks, such as, investigations, administration, traffic enforcement, writing reports and court appearances. These necessary functions limit the available deputy manpower for neighborhood patrol,
Since there is a higher rate of citizens, it stands to reason that Neighborhood Watch citizens become an extension of the sheriff’s department’s eyes and ears.
The Program provides its community with unlimited availability of their citizens to watch their neighborhoods for suspicious activities or crimes. Unlike the deputies who are limited in where they can be at any given time or circumstance, citizens are many times greater than any sheriff’s department could ever have the manpower to provide. This helps deter crime enormously since it puts the criminal element off balance, and the criminal, instead of limiting his concern to police patrols, must put himself on guard against an entire community watching for his criminal conduct.
Our nation is built on the strength of our citizens. Every day, we encounter situations calling upon us to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement. Not only does neighborhood watch allow citizens to help in the fight against crime, it is also an opportunity for communities to bond through service. The Neighborhood Watch Program draws upon the compassion of average citizens, asking them to lend their neighbors a hand.
Since 1972, the USAonWatch-Neighborhood Watch Program (housed within the National Sheriffs’ Association) has worked to unite law enforcement agencies, private organizations, and individual citizens in a nation-wide effort to reduce crime and improve local communities. The success of the program has established Neighborhood Watch as the nation’s premier crime prevention and community mobilization program. Visible signs of the program are seen throughout American on street signs, window decals, community block parties and service projects.