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Neighborhood Watch
Starting a Neighborhood Watch

Organizing your block
Once you have made the choice to be a Block Watch Captain, the first step is to organize your block. The best way to do this is to canvas your block by going door-to-door, and talking with neighbors about their interest in participating in this type of crime prevention program. Outline the benefits of the program and how it will help neighbors to get to know one another as well as prevent crime.

Form a planning group
Although you have volunteered to be the Block Watch Captain, it is important that you have a group of residents that can help in organizing two meetings per year, that are able to stand in as BW Captain if you are unable, or to assist in disseminating information to the block. Your block should work as a team with a united goal, therefore invite anyone who volunteers to participate in the planning group.

Contact your local law enforcement agency
The next step is to partner up with the Brooklyn Center Police Department. This is the most important tool in having a successful program creating a good line of communication between your group and law enforcement. Once you register with the Police Department you can receive information about Neighborhood Watch groups, specific statistical information about crimes occurring in your neighborhood, and serve as guest speakers at your meetings. You will also receive quarterly newsletters about crime prevention and are able to schedule premise surveys of homes on your block. The Police Department can provide you with the Neighborhood Watch signs and stickers.

Planning first meeting
Now that you and your planning group have organized your block and registered with the Police Department, it is time to plan your first meeting. This may sound easier than it actually is. The first step it to find a time and date that will work for the majority of your members. Evenings or weekends tend to work best for the working population but you may have to consider the needs of the elderly, weather conditions and/or location before making a final decision. Have a few options open that will best accommodate your members then begin to research a location for the meeting.

Meeting agenda and handouts
Your Block Watch meetings should be approximately 1-1 ½ hours in length, depending on the needs of your group. Remember to have sign-in sheets at the door for members’ information, so that the planning group can keep track of member participation. Nametags may also be helpful for the first few meetings so that members get to know one another on a more personal basis. If possible, have snacks at meetings to increase turnout! You may also want to have handouts as tools, and you can usually get these for free from various agencies, City Hall, the Police Department or from Internet resources. We suggest that you brainstorm topics with your group that affect your neighborhood, discuss possible solutions and work with law enforcement on topics that they should be aware of. The main goals of your meetings should be for members to get to know one another, so that they are aware of who should and should not be on your block as well as discuss solutions to your neighborhood problems. Lastly, after addressing agenda topics or listening to invited speakers it is important to have a limited amount of “free time” where all members can be heard and questions can be answered!

Mobilizing Community Resources
Once you have planned when you would like to have your initial meeting, it is then time to mobilize and utilize some of your community resources! Visit/call local churches, businesses and schools to discuss your plans in preventing crime in the area, how it benefits them, and how these groups can participate. At this point you can create a list of places that may be willing to work with your group. You may be able to hold regular meetings at no charge at local schools or churches. Work with a contact person to coordinate the logistics of the partnership up front, so that both parties will be satisfied with the outcome.

Advertise your meeting
About one week before the meeting, canvas the neighborhood with flyers ( But-do not put flyers in mailboxes, as it is a federal offense!) or call all residents about time, date and location of the first meetings. This will give residents enough time to plan ahead, but not too much time so that they forget.

First Meeting
At your initial meeting, it is important to discuss with everyone the importance of having a Block Watch Program and vote on the logistics of how they would like it to operate. Based on the members’ needs, decisions should be had about how often to hold meetings, agenda ideas, meeting location, choosing special events and speakers, as well as identifying specific problems that plague your community. Make sure that all members have an opportunity to voice their opinions about how the program should run and their concerns. 

Agenda topics/suggestions

  • Crime Prevention Armed Robbery Survival
  • Code Enforcement Retail Loss Prevention
  • Home Safety Community Policing
  • Personal Safety Fraud
  • Identity Theft Speeding
  • Gangs After-School Programs
  • Drug Prevention Internet Safety

Maintaining communication
In order to keep members interested, it is important to meet and communicate on a regular basis. BW captains can do this in several ways. Aside from regularly scheduled meetings, you can organize special social events (such as summer BW parties, holiday potlucks, back to school gatherings, or host National Night Out meetings). Special events can help to strike a balance between business and pleasure. Put together phone trees and community maps so that everyone is aware of where members live, as well as have access to member phone numbers. This also creates a sense of community.

The Brooklyn Center Police Department hopes this information will assist you in organizing your own successful Block Watch Program. Remember, you know your neighborhood best. Watch groups are not police, but they do ask residents to be observant and report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to law enforcement.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a meeting with us, you can contact the Crime Prevention Specialist, Becky Boie at 763-503-3272 or e-mail.