Establishing COMMUNITY WATCH

Establishing COMMUNITY WATCH

The local police service should not attempt to force Watch programs however should be prepared to provide human resources and logistical support to support the implementation.  In most cases, large rural areas can be adequately covered with relatively few WATCH members.

It is important to set realistic and achievable goals for local programs and to identify ways to build and strengthen a strong base of community support for the NW program.  You should make every possible use of existing community resources when implementing CW as this is not a police run program.  These community groups can serve as a source of funds, resources and most importantly, a platform to spread the word.

STEP ONE – Understanding

To set up and work with the Watch program in your area, all participants must become familiar with the program itself.  They must understand the “who, what, where, when, why and how’s” of the program.

What is Community Watch?

Community crime prevention programs that can include:
•    property identification or “target hardening”
•    community patrols and involvement
•    police support
•    promotes property safety and security
•    a partnership between the local police, local residents, corporate sponsors, local governments  and support groups such as CPAC (Community Policing Advisory Council of Ontario)

Who Is Involved In Community Watch?
•    citizens
•    support groups or associations
•    police

Why Does Community Watch Work
•    reduces incidents of theft, damage, break-ins aggressive and dangerous driving
•    creates a team environment – a key to any successful program
•    increases ownership of the problem by stakeholders
•    assists the police service in crime detection and prevention
•    identifies property for easy recognition and recovery
•    creates a safe living environment and reduces fear of victimization
STEP TWO – Analysis – Obtaining Information within your community
To effectively implement a Community Watch program, you must know where to obtain the required information on your community, your area, full time and seasonal residents and available resources, statistical information on crime and road safety. Obtaining demographic and geographical information will assist in providing a clearer picture of the “who, what, when, where, why & how’s” to assist in developing your program.

Identifying the sources of support and assistance for establishing and working with the program is critical. Locating partnerships within the existing community will support the ongoing requirements and assist in sustaining the program.

•    your own knowledge of the area, neighbours, resources, problems
•    your local Municipal Office
•    your local police service
•    existing police-community partnerships
•    citizens, neighbours and visitors
•    obtain information on the programs, resource material etc. from local associations and support groups such as FOCA, Road WatchCanada, CPAC

You should identify community characteristics including:
•    demographics and geographical information
•    statistical data, victimization rates
•    occurrence rates, types
•    population – full time, seasonal residents

To be effective in the implementation of a Watch program, the need to involve other organizations, groups or businesses is critical. Many organizations are very willing to participate and are, by the nature of their work, in an excellent position to act as the eyes and ears of the police and community patrollers. Examples of such organizations are:

•    Ontario Hydro, Bell Canada, Utility Companies
•    Municipal Roads Department Workers
•    Local Real Estate Boards
•    Local Contractors, Builders Associations,
•    Landscaping Companies
•    Student and Seniors’ Organizations

What do they offer?
•      eyes and ears, community patrols
•      knowledge of available resources,
•      the area and who should be there, or shouldn’t
•      off-season support and contact for local police
•      continuity from year to year within the program

STEP THREE – Developing Infrastructure

Form a Committee, identify who is interested in participating in the program, recruit volunteers, identify a chairperson or contact person and establish a committee structure.

At this point, you will have a good idea of which groups and individuals are available or interested in participating and/or further examining the benefits of setting up a Watch program. This information will be derived from the first step (Understanding). Items for consideration at this point include:

•    establishing an organizing committee
•    identifying a chairperson or contact person
•    establishing boundaries
•    commitment for attendance at the first meeting
•    record individual and group participants
•    targeted activities with designated persons
•    responsible and completion dates
•    record agreed upon items and tasks,
•    identify next steps
•    appointing a watch steward
•    detailing proper procedures for property identification
•    procedures on community patrols
•    actions to take if you see a crime etc….

STEP FOUR- Training (Promoting Awareness)

Effective communication is an extremely vital step. In this step, you make your first and most important announcement of the Community Watch program. As in every situation, you only have one chance to make a first impression. The effective use of available media or communications venues is very important as is the message you deliver.

A number of sources can be utilized to raise awareness and promote the first meeting.  Some of these are shown below:

By the Community
•    local radio, newspapers, cable channels
•    community meetings, in newsletters
•    posters or flyers in prominent areas
•    utilities billings

By the Local Police Service
•    through community presentations
•    delivering pamphlets during investigations
•    by marine or snow vehicle patrols
•    general patrols

The Presentation

The presentation should be conducted in partnership with the local police partner and the participating organizations (e.g. CPAC, FOCA, Road WatchCanada).

Once you have arranged the meeting and have representation from many of the areas or organizations that may assist with your Watch program, it is important to inform everyone on the benefits and value of establishing such a program.

Community members should clearly understand why should they commit their time to this program.
The presentation should cover the important facts about the program. Remember to highlight the benefits to participants and the community.
Hand outs are extremely important. They allow the attendees to walk away with, not only the verbal information provided, but literature to read at a later date.

Training
The last step prior to implementation is the training session.  Training should include information on the structure, support people, (i.e. police, volunteers, local partners), how to problem solve, running meetings, planning etc.
After the session, you are ready to commence the actual implementation of the Cottage Watch program.  All the information that you need is now available – knowledge of the program, the resources, volunteers, police support, statistics, committee structure and copies of the presentation.

Key Roles and Responsibilities

Police Service

Police Community Watch Coordinator
•    Liaison with Area Coordinator
•    Support CW implementation and maintenance
•    Share information as appropriate

Community Group

Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator
•    Overall coordination of Watch Program
•    Liaison with Police CW Coordinator
•    Receive and log information from Area Coordinators
•    Coordinating Fund Raising

Area Coordinator
•    Receive and log information from Zone Coordinators/Co-Coordinators. Communicate relevant information received to other Zone Coordinators and Co-Coordinators.
•    Circulate newsletters each year to maintain interest.
•    Keep Zone Coordinators and Co-Coordinators lists up to date by recruiting as a vacancy occur.
•    Communicate with Watch Coordinator

Zone Coordinator
The Coordinators job is to act as a liaison between the residents within their area and the Area Coordinator.  It is not a huge time commitment or a lot of work. If break and enters, acts of vandalism or other situations occur; the Zone Coordinator reports the incident to the CW Coordinator who then alerts the Police and other Zone Coordinators if required

•    Communicate with neighbours in the zone to become familiar with usual house patterns
•    Report information received from homeowners to Area Coordinator
•    Communicate relevant information to occupants in the zone
•    Encourage new neighbours to become involved in the Watch.
•    Distribute stickers

Zone Co-Coordinator
•    Back up for the Zone Coordinator.
•    A second phone contact in case of emergency.

Watch Member
•    Know general house patterns of neighbours, particularly in the immediate zone.
•    Report suspicious events as they are happening first to police. Dial 911 and then the Zone Coordinator.
•    Be a good neighbour by getting involved and by being aware. Report unusual or suspicious events to the police immediately and then to your Area Leader of your Watch.