01 Apr 2014
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As a crime prevention program, the Neighborhood Watch was launched in 1972 to bring together the efforts of citizens and members of law enforcement in deterring crimes and making communities safer. With the National Sheriffs' Association as a sponsor, it was developed in response to growing concern for home security because the number of burglaries at the time was on the rise. It quickly caught on though, with 12% of the US population participating in the Neighborhood Watch in just 10 years after the program was launched.
What is important to note though is that while the program empowers ordinary individuals to keep their neighborhood safe, members of the Neighborhood Watch actually take on more passive roles. This is because they are more taught to identify suspicious activities in the community and report them to the police, functioning like the neighborhood's comprehensive alarm system. The police in turn are the ones responsible for taking the necessary actions to take care of potential threats to neighborhood safety. While members are more than welcome to know a few self-defense moves, the Neighborhood Watch is not supposed to be armed.
The evolution of the Neighborhood Watch
When the Neighborhood Watch began, earlier groups were only big enough to cover a few households. Today, with about 40% of the population participating in the program, protected households number more than just a few under the watchful eye of the Neighborhood Watch. One of the biggest in the US, the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Watch in Los Angeles, in fact, covers a population made up of over 30,000 individuals. An increase in the population usually translates to an increase in crime rates so it is only natural that the program would have to evolve in order to keep up. Aside from expanding in size, the Neighborhood Watch can also take advantage of technology to adapt, relying on the use of alarm systems to banish crime or at the very least keep it to a minimum.
Does the Neighborhood Watch work?
According to the US Department of Justice Crime Prevention Research Review, nearly all studies done about Neighborhood Watch showed that areas with citizen involvement were associated with lower crime levels. For the government, there was a need to determine whether or not the Neighborhood Watch effectively reduces crime because large investments and great community involved was needed by the program. For the people in the community though, the concern was more personal. It is, after all, their community. And should unsavory individuals set foot in their neighborhood, it would be their lives and properties in danger. It is argued that potential offenders decide to go the other way when they see visible surveillance from patrolling members of the Neighborhood Watch, deterring the crime because they don't want to deal with so many complications.
The fact that the Neighborhood Watch works is proven by Allentown, Pennsylvania. Since the program started, the city has never had a negative incident, with a steady number of watch groups participating ever since the mid-1970s. Home security cameras weren't even invented yet! Other cities may not have a record as stellar as Allentown, but this shows nonetheless that having the Neighborhood Watch around is a great idea. Take Detroit, Michigan, for example. For several years in a row now, Detroit has taken the stop spot on the Most Dangerous Cities list that Forbes releases annually using information from the FBI. But even so, the violent crime rate in Detroit actually went down compared to levels from the previous year. Many things have been done in Detroit to curb crime, and these include the implementation of Neighborhood Watches.
Will the addition of surveillance cameras help?
Of course, it will. The possibility is high because it's going to be just like having eyes all around. Sure, the Neighborhood Watch can regularly patrol areas in the neighborhood but they won't be everywhere all the time. Having hidden cameras in place will help ensure that the entire neighborhood has regular surveillance, most especially crime-prone areas. Hidden surveillance cameras are also in place in Detroit so the reduction in the city's crime rate may have something to do as well with the use of wired and wireless cameras. If installing covert spy cameras could help Detroit, the most dangerous city in the US, then it surely can help your community.
But what's even better is that you don't have to stick with just installing spy cameras. What are you supposed to do with all that footage anyway, right? Go to any alarm system store and you'll be dazzled by the range of security system options available to you. Whether you're interested in wired cameras or wireless surveillance cameras, there's sure to be a complementing burglar alarm system you can take advantage of. Don't know what to choose? Don't fret because a home security store will be more than willing to walk you through available choices so you can go home with the perfect one for you. Get a DSC alarm system and you can even have it pre-programmed so you don't have to worry about tinkering with anything.
Your safety is your responsibility
There's still so much to be done before you can enjoy living crime-free, but the Neighborhood Watch is doing a great job keeping crime at bay so there are a lot of good words you can say about the program. But even when you're living in an area that enjoys low crime rates, you can never be too safe so you should always be open to talking to a security system supplier. You may not need it today but will you wait until you actually have a need for one before you get wired surveillance cameras? Don't leave it up to chance. You never know when your luck's going to run out. Be prepared. Criminals are smart but you can bet you can be smarter than them. Help your Neighborhood Watch be the best it can be by investing in community surveillance cameras.