How to Get Started
- Contact the Irondequoit Police Department Community Engagement Unit about setting up a Neighborhood Watch. They will assist you with materials and technical advice.
- Schedule a meeting in a home, church, community building, volunteer fire department, or other location.
- Arrangements will be made to have an officer speak at your meeting about the Neighborhood Watch program. The Irondequoit Police Department has specially trained Community Policing Officers who can assist with this program.
- Write every resident in the neighborhood, inviting them to the meeting. Two or three weeks before you’re meeting, deliver the letters door-to-door. Start around 7 pm at night when most people are home. If they are home, encourage them to attend. It is suggested that you gain the assistance of some neighbors to assist you in the process. Sample letters and flyers are available from the Irondequoit Police Department.
- Draw a large map of all the streets in your community. If necessary, cruise your neighborhood by car and draw your map that way. When the map is done, paste it onto cardboard for support. Borrow an easel to hold up your map at the meeting.
- It is recommended that one week before the meeting, you again go to every home in the area. Remind them that the meeting is one week away, and ask if there is anything you can do to help them attend. Remember, there is no substitute for hand delivering the letters and your reminder. When your neighbors see how hard you are working, they will be more likely to attend the meeting.
- Arrive in plenty of time. As people come, thank them and usher them in. Introduce people, and encourage neighbors to sit together and become acquainted. When everyone has arrived, go to the front of the room and introduce yourself and the law enforcement official. Then, have the neighbor sitting the closest to you stand up and introduce him or herself, any family, and their address. Have the next person in line give the same information, and so on.
- After everyone has been introduced, the law enforcement official will give a speech on the Neighborhood Watch program and crime prevention techniques in the home. Pass out paper and pencils so your neighbors can take notes. When the speech is completed, ask the audience questions. Make sure that everyone understands the program completely. The Neighborhood Watch program can be effective only when everyone knows what he or she must do.
- Get a complete list of names, addresses, and phone numbers from everyone taking part in the program. Also get a list of special concerns for the handicapped, elderly, and children home alone.
- Select the type of signs and window decals necessary for high visibility in the community. The Irondequoit Police Department can assist you with the planning and placement of Neighborhood Watch signs.
- Advise your neighbors that the Crime Prevention Officer can return to the neighborhood to make voluntary security inspections of all the homes participating in the program. This is a free service offered by the Irondequoit Police Department.
- Elect your permanent Neighborhood Watch Chairperson. This person is responsible for communicating with local law enforcement officials and the volunteer leaders of each block in your community called "Block Captains." Your chairperson will head your entire program, choose wisely. Just how effective your Neighborhood Watch is depends greatly upon whom you elect as your leader. The Chairperson should ideally be a person who spends a lot of time at home.
- Recruit volunteers to serve as Block Captains or Block Chairmen. These people serve as leaders for their blocks in the neighborhood, and they pass out information from their permanent Chairperson to their blocks and vice versa. Block Captains do not have to be as outgoing as the permanent Chairperson is. They should be inquisitive; however, because they will be looking after homes. They should also keep track of families moving in and out of their blocks and should encourage new families to join the Neighborhood Watch Program.
- Schedule a second meeting for the entire neighborhood for the following month. Initially, monthly meetings should be used to keep everyone informed about crime prevention subjects and maintain maximum participation in Neighborhood Watch and other community programs. You may wish to meet less often, depending on your programs.
- Thank everyone for coming and tell them they will hear from the Block Captains soon. Ask the Chairperson and Block Captains to stay a little longer. Have each Captain write down his or her name, address, and telephone number on a piece of paper. These sheets plus your diagramed map go to the permanent Chairperson. Your leaders should then set up a time to meet so that they can put Neighborhood Watch into action.
- You have done a good job and can take pride in the fact that you have initiated a program in your neighborhood, which will change everyone’s lives for the better! From this point on, the hardest job will be to maintain everyone’s interest in crime prevention.
Once you have reviewed these items and are interested in hosting a Neighborhood Watch Meeting, please contact the Irondequoit Police Department Community Services Unit at 585-336-6000 and a complete Neighborhood Watch Manual can be provided to you.