I am a firm believer in the power of numbers. In my mind that has to do with like-minded individuals working on the same plan, seeking the same results. For me, I find that when people work together as a group they can accomplish more. I have also been part of several groups that pushed in the same direction and the results were successful. It’s a logical way to do things.
Can Working Together End Crime?
In recent weeks there have been senseless acts of vandalism and theft of public property. Before you say that it’s ‘normal’ here and that it is a ‘Princeton thing’ let’s take a different look at what is happening. Are people bored and they need to do these things to keep their minds active? Are these events happening because law enforcement is already stretched to the max?
I’m sure the answer lies somewhere in between those two questions. Regardless of why vandalism takes place, there is a way in which we can work together to stop – or at least reduce – the frequency of the incidents. You’ll notice that I said we have to ‘work together’ to solve the problem. I’m thinking it’s time to get serious with a Neighbourhood Watch Program.
How To Start A Neighbourhood Watch Group In Just A Few Steps
1 – Recruit Your Neighbours
The first step to getting a group together to work on keeping your neighbourhood safe is by getting to know your neighbours. If you can pull together as many as possible, then you are on your way.
2 – Meet With RCMP
Once you have gathered enough neighbours, contact your local Detachment of the RCMP. You’ll want to schedule a meeting where you can discuss your concerns about crime and safety in your neighbourhood. It’s important that the group you form works together with RCMP (working together is the key) as your Neighbourhood Watch Group should be a cooperative effort with law enforcement.
3 – Discuss Concerns/Develop An Action Plan
So what if the local RCMP can’t meet with you? Try the local municipal bylaw enforcement department. If you cannot attract any representation from your local enforcement agencies, host a neighbourhood meeting anyway and discuss the top three concerns of those in attendance. The group should then take those three concerns and create a plan on how to lessen the impact of those issues in your neighbourhood. For example, if speeding is a concern, have neighbours take turns monitoring the street where this happens recording times/dates of incidents as well as vehicle descriptions and license plates. This information would then be passed on to authorities.
4 – Plan Your Communication Strategy
Your Neighbourhood Watch Group will work best if there is regular communication between members. That may be in the form of a regular meeting, a phone call or a closed social media group or e-mail group. Whatever the format is decided, use it consistently to keep all members informed about what is happening within the group and what observations are being made by group members. DO NOT USE social media to ‘out’ speeders or other individuals related to the core concerns of your neighbours.
5 – Host Meetings/Events
Want to spread the word and get other neighbourhoods forming their own Watch Groups? Host information meetings about the program. Also, host informational meeting on topics of interest that can be educational for others. Subjects can be about how to secure your home/office, what signs in your yard tell that you have been away for a period of time, how to protect your home from a break-in, etc. The meetings will help to show the benefit of working together with your neighbours and community to reduce crime.
The Benefits Of Starting A Neighbourhood Watch Group
I know, we have had Watch Groups active in the past in Princeton. We have also had Citizens on Patrol (COPP). Maybe it is time that we all started working together again to take control of the situation and work as a group to reduce the senseless acts of vandalism and theft. Yes, I am fully aware that the incidents may never go away completely but by working as a group – using the power of numbers – we can easily reduce the frequency of these incidents.
So, what are the benefits of doing this? Here are a few to consider:
1 – The creation of partnerships with your neighbours and law enforcement
2 – A reduction in crime/vandalism
3 – A hometown that is better prepared and more secure
4 – A unified community of residents all working together for the same goals
5 – Improved communication between neighbours and neighbourhoods and throughout the community
Can We Actually Work Together To Make Change?
I believe we can. I have actually seen proof of this in action. Typically, it required a tragedy of some kind but think back to the forest fire situation from last summer. The community pulled together and opened their homes, hearts, pantries and wallets to assist. Imagine how powerful our community could be if we all worked together to combat crime in our neighbourhoods. It can be done. I think that the initiative must come from residents. However, I also strongly feel that neighbourhoods forming Watch Groups require the support of Town Council simply because the safer our neighbourhoods become, the more attractive our community becomes to others. This could lead to growth and new business, which would benefit our community as a whole.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.