Some people picture a neighborhood block watch as vigilantes out in the streets with their baseball bats and brass knuckles, waiting for someone to "mess around" in their neighborhood.
In actuality, a block watch is simply a group of concerned citizens that have organized, gotten to know one another, and have decided to use problem-solving to better their neighborhood. They decide that their neighborhood is not going to be a place that allows criminal activity. They consciously decide to look out for one another, just like in the "good old days", and work to reduce crime in their areas of control.
To start a block watch in your area, someone must decide to host a block watch workshop. The host calls the Proactive Policing Unit at the Bellingham Police Department, and a date is set, usually 4-5 weeks in the future. The officer mails the host a set of invitations and pre-surveys to hand out to neighbors, as well as this letter of explanation. The host is responsible for inviting his/her neighbors to the workshop. The host needs to have at least five different families represented at the initial meeting.
On the night of the block watch, a Crime Prevention Officer comes to the host's home and facilitates a two hour workshop. The workshop consists of sharing information with each other, identifying neighborhood concerns, and generating action plans to address those concerns. These meetings are crucial in order for a productive communication system to be established on the block. The participants get the opportunity to meet the crime prevention officer and get to know their neighbors.
Knowing those that live around you is an essential part of a successful block watch. Increased communication leads to decreased crime.
There are three basic goals for the Block Watch Workshop:
This workshop is definitely worth your time and energy because block watch has been highly effective in reducing crime in Bellingham.
The Bellingham Police Department will send periodic newsletters and crime alerts to the active block watch members through the block "captains" in your area.
To review previous BlockWatcher newsletters click below:
For more information, or to schedule a Block Watch Workshop, contact the Bellingham Police Department.