Anyone can be a victim of burglary or other crimes. Despite our best precautions, we often feel alone and vulnerable to crime. But there is a vital protection tool available --- something residents in a community can do by banding together, in connection with local law-enforcement agencies, to prevent crime before it happens. THE NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

This is a community based program that has been proven to deter crime. Thousands of these programs have been developed around the country, breaking down the isolation of neighbors as they work together and with law enforcement officers. It is a remarkably successful anti-crime effort, as participants work together as a true community --- neighbor looking out for neighbor. Any community resident can take part; young, old, single, married, renter and home owner. All it takes to get started are a few concerned residents.

Whether you live in a high crime area or not, a comprehensive Neighborhood Watch program offers numerous benefits for your area. Such programs instill a greater sense of security, well-being, and reduce the fear of crime in your neighborhood. In a word, Neighborhood Watch helps instill a greater "sense of community," by putting the neighbor back into neighborhood. Here are some of the other benefits you can expect by participating in a Neighborhood Watch program: HOW TO GET STARTED
Neighborhood Watch helps build pride and serves as a springboard for efforts that address other community concerns. If you don't start a Neighborhood Watch program in your area, perhaps no one will. But if you do, you may be amazed at how easy it is to organize the program. First, contact as many of your neighbors as possible and ask them if they would be willing to meet to organize a Neighborhood Watch. Form a planning committee. Plan an initial meeting. Contact your local police department and request that an officer come to your meeting to discuss your community's problems and needs. Ask him for information on local crime patterns. Also ask him if information is available for local and national contacts that will assist you in organizing and maintaining your program.

Once your program is beginning to get under way, the following steps should be taken. Once you get started in organizing a Neighborhood Watch, there is virtually no limit to the innovative ways you can combat crime and increase involvement of members of your community. Your neighborhood will not only become safer and more secure, but will have the added benefit of neighbors brought closer together, with opportunities to rekindle the sense of community that many areas of the country have lost. A strong, healthy, united community is one of the strongest deterrents to crime! But it all has to start somewhere. It can start with you --- beginning today!

These are problems that you should not investigate on your own. Report them to your local law enforcement personnel. Alert your neighbors.

Periodic meetings should be used to develop programs to heighten citizen awareness. Speakers from law enforcement and other community organizations can address such topics as:

Once you get your Neighborhood Watch organized, your neighborhood will not only become safer and more secure, but neighbors will be brought closer together.

One of the best and most effective deterrents to crime in your neighborhood is the neighborhood patrol. Check with your Neighborhood Watch members and see if they are willing to participate in a mobile patrol that will keep a watchful eye on your area. If they are interested, you need to form a patrol committee with one person as chairperson. Funding is one of the most important parts at the beginning because you will need equipment (magnetic signs, revolving lights, CB radios or other means of communication, base stations, antennas, spot lights and other items). You will need an equipment coordinator to keep track of the equipment. All patrollers must have identification badges of some sort. You should publish a patrollers' handbook with rules and regulations/procedures for the patrollers. (See note below)

The volunteer patrollers will have to be trained. Contact your local law enforcement personnel and see if they will set up a training class for your new patrollers. Remember, the patrollers are "the eyes and ears" of the police and they have no authority to make arrests.

Some patrol procedures you will want to enforce:

Many patrollers may want to purchase their own equipment. In our neighborhood many have their own lights, cell phones and CB's. It is amazing what a difference a patrol can make. Crime in areas with Neighborhood Watch Patrols will drop significantly. Just seeing the "blinkie" light will drive many potential criminals out of your area. You will never know what crime you have prevented just by being out there and visible.

NOTE: The patrol handbook should cover topics such as - the mission statement; description of the patrol; purpose of the patrol; how the patrol is organized; qualifications to be a patroller; rules of conduct; equipment required and how to use it; the area the patrol will cover; patrol procedures; and, training (training cannot be overemphasized).

The Hartsdel Neighborhood Watch Association, and members of the Hartsdel Patrol hope this information will be helpful. All it takes is a little initiative, a lot of planning and coordination and a desire to make your neighborhood safe again. Good luck.

For more information you can contact:
National Neighborhood Watch Program
National Sheriffs' Association
1450 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3490
contact your local law enforcement agency

If you are in Oklahoma City and the surrounding area you can contact:

South Oklahoma City Council of Neighborhoods
2200 SE 59th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73129
(405) 672-9495