The Neighborhood Watch Program is a highly successful effort which has been in existence for some thirty years in cities across America. It provides a unique infrastructure that brings together local officials, law enforcement andcitizens for the protection of communities.
In cities around the country, neighbors for three decades have banded together to create these “watch” programs. They understand that the active participation of neighborhood residents is a critical element in community safety – not through vigilantism, but simply through a willingness to look out for suspicious activity in their neighborhood, and report that activity to the police and to each other. In doing so, residents take a major step toward reclaiming high-crime neighborhoods, as well as making people in all areas of a city or town feel more secure and less fearful.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the need for strengthening and securing our communities has become even more critical. President Bush has announced that, with the help of the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Neighborhood Watch Program will be taking on a new significance. Community residents will be provided with information which will enable them to recognize signs of potential terrorist activity, and to know how to report that activity, making these residents a critical element in the detection, prevention and disruption of terrorism.
We will be publishing information which will assist citizens in organizing Neighborhood Watch Programs, knowing what to look for in the community, and understanding what to do if they observe suspicious activity. Under the umbrella of the newly-created Citizen Preparedness Councils, the Neighborhood Watch Programs will help to distribute useful information circulated by the Councils and other agencies.
Many neighborhoods already have Neighborhood Watch programs, which are vibrant and effective. For those that do not, this new initiative may provide the incentive for them to participate in an important new effort on behalf of their friends and neighbors, as well as the nation as a whole.