You live in a high crime area. What does that look like?
If it looks anything like where I grew up, the streets are empty at night.
People were once neighborly, but that’s now a distant memory.
I remember when the walls went up. They used to be about waist high. They’re now at least two meters tall topped with clicking electric fences or razor wire.
Ironically none of this has helped. All that’s happened is people have retreated to the perceived safety of their homes.
Left to themselves, the criminals wander the streets unhindered. Carjackings have become commonplace and people have traded in their lives for the crime of stopping at red lights.
Why Start a Neighborhood Watch?
Before simply answering the question, we should explore a basic concept.
A neighborhood is like a living breathing entity. When crime takes over a neighborhood, the neighborhood becomes unhealthy. What was once a shared space becomes abandoned.
As people retreat to their houses, they mentally view their space as extending to the walls they have built and no further. They lose their sense of shared responsibility or interest in their surroundings. At this stage, crime begins to corrode the fabric of society.
The question is do you just live with it or do you do something?
Crime Prevention – 2 Options
There’s a basic principle.
If you want to solve a problem, you have to invest something. There are basically 2 commodities you can trade:
There’s no way around this. In order to change your society, you can either invest your hard-earned money, or you can invest your time.
Crime Prevention in South Africa
I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. I remember around 12 years ago, the crime became unlivable. To deal with this some communities decided to spend their hard-earned money.
Yes, the South African government failed its people. There was no attempt at adequate law enforcement. To answer a growing need, these communities set up their own privately run police force.
Was it effective?
But at what cost? Yes, these communities captured their suburban paradise back. Life carried on as it had done before. But pockets aren’t infinitely deep. Can they fund their private police force forever?
Time will tell.
Invest Your Time By Starting a Neighborhood Watch
There is of course another option. The neighborhood watch. Yes, it would be nice to create your own privately run police force. The question is can you financially afford to do that?
When money is in short supply, you can always invest time. Yes, time effort and a bit of know-how.
Is it effective?
Neighborhood watch statistics have shown a reduction in crime in a neighborhood by as much as 25%.
Benefits of a Neighborhood Watch
Besides the 25% crime reduction, here are some other benefits of a neighborhood watch program.
- Neighborhood watch programs bring communities together. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re all working together on a common goal, perhaps it’s the fact that they are all looking out for each other.
- Starting a neighborhood watch causes a community to take ownership of its situation. This means your community could get rid of its victim mindset.
- As community members go out on patrols, they become security-aware. This makes them more vigilant, which leads to seeing the importance of security measures such as lighting.
Whichever way you split it, a neighborhood watch has its benefits. The question you have to ask yourself is, is the time investment outweighed by the benefits. Meaning, yes you will be spending time recruiting and managing the operation. But, you might just get your neighborhood back.