What is a ‘Blockwatch’?
Neighborhood Blockwatch has proven itself as one of the most effective ways for citizens to get involved in the fight against crime. The fact is, the police alone cannot control crime; they need the help of an alert and concerned public. Safe streets and neighborhoods are everyone’s concern and Neighborhood Blockwatch provides a means for everyone to be responsibly involved in the fight against crime.
How does ‘Blockwatch’ work?
Blockwatch establishes a formal network for citizens to exchange ideas and information with their neighbors and with the police. Through a specially designed sequence of neighborhood meetings, the residents learn how to become the extended eyes and ears of the police, reporting on suspicious or unusual activity in their communities and forwarding that information to the proper authorities. Participants of a Blockwatch also learn the best techniques for securing their homes and property, along with tips on personal safety for themselves and their families when shopping, traveling and engaging in other activities away from home.
Under no circumstances are Blockwatch participants asked to perform law enforcement duties. That is the job of the police. There are no Blockwatch tasks that would put anyone at risk. Most Blockwatch duties are performed in the course of everyday activities around the neighborhood. Being a Blockwatch participant does not detract from working schedules or leisure time. The Sixth amendment allows for the accused to face the accuser. Always be accurate and factual with all information, Do not use third-party or hear-say – “he said / she said “ when reporting. All information stated may be used in a court of law. False reporting is a criminal act, punishable by law, with fines.
How can a ‘Blockwatch’ help me?
In the Borough of Wilson, Pa. and elsewhere, studies have shown that citizens and law enforcement officers working together can have a positive impact on the crime rate. Blockwatch is the best way for everyone to get involved. Be part of the solution, not the problem. However, for the Blockwatch to stay effective, the participants must be committed to making it work. All with “Positive attitudes and solutions”.
How do I get involved in ‘Blockwatch’?
As a general rule, the formation of a BlockWatch requires several meetings that cover:
* At the first meetings organizational details are discussed, including what is expected of Blockwatch participants, geographical boundaries, and selection of block captains and/or coordinators. The first meeting may also cover basic information about the organization of the Division of Police, use of 911, how to call in suspicious persons or activity and other immediate concerns of attendees.
* The next phase is generally devoted to home security and target-hardening, including information about door and window locks, alarm systems and burglary prevention information.
* The third phase is usually concerned with personal safety, street crimes, sexual assault, and any other areas not covered at the other meetings. Since the third meeting is usually the last in the sequence, any remaining organizational matters are finalized.
This meeting sequence is purposely kept flexible, since different neighborhoods have different needs. If, for example, a new BlockWatch area is experiencing significant burglary problems, it may be desirable to cover home security at the first meeting, even if organizational details must be postponed.
Blockwatch – Frequently Asked Questions
Q. There is no crime in our neighborhood. Should we still try to start a Blockwatch?
A. Maybe. The fact that many neighborhoods are virtually crime-free does not make them immune. Criminal activity knows no geographical boundary, and provided that enough initial interest can be generated, the fact that your neighborhood is crime-free may be the best reason to establish a Blockwatch now. It should be stressed that every successful BlockWatch, regardless of the crime rate, requires involved, interested, and committed participants.
Q. I don’t like to go to a lot of meetings. Can I still be a Blockwatch participant?
A. Yes. Most new Neighborhood Blockwatches require only two or three weekly or biweekly meetings to get started. After that period, an occasional maintenance meeting is recommended to keep BlockWatch participants active and interested.
Q. Who conducts the Blockwatch meetings?
A. The initial Blockwatch meetings are conducted by community liaison officers and community trainers who are well-trained in crime prevention techniques, organizational skills and community leadership. Depending upon the size of the Blockwatch, a few volunteers are needed in getting the program started, and moving in the right direction.
Q. Won’t the Blockwatch program just result in a lot of frivolous and unnecessary calls to the police?
A. No. Remember that you are the best one to judge whether something is normal or not normal in your neighborhood. Even if your call turns out to be a false alarm, it is better to let trained police officers make that determination. Of course, as a Blockwatch participant, you will receive instruction on what constitutes a true emergency as opposed to something which simply needs routine police attention. Blockwatch participants receive information on the proper use of the 911 system for real emergency situations. Under no circumstances are Blockwatch participants asked to perform law enforcement duties.
Q. How do we obtain Neighborhood Blockwatch signs?
A. As a general rule, a minimum 50% level of participation, by number of households in a Blockwatch area, is necessary for obtaining signs. However, the crime prevention officer may recommend signs for neighborhoods which demonstrate a strong commitment to the program but fall short of the 50% participation level. Of course, any Blockwatch which becomes inactive is subject to having the signs removed.
Q. How do we get started?
A. Contact the Borough of Wilson, Pa. Blockwatch Officer. You will be referred to the crime prevention Blockwatch officer in your area, who will explain all of the necessary steps for getting a Blockwatch started in your neighborhood.
The information presented on this ‘Blockwatch’ document is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed. The Borough of Wilson and Division of Police disclaim liability for any error or omissions.
For more information on Block Watch
Contact Winnie at WBBlockwatch@aol.com
Non – Emergency number for Police: 610-330-2200
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