I’m starting a Block Watch for our neighborhood in West Seattle. It all began with Seattle Night Out which takes place on the first Tuesday of every August. I created some fliers and a couple of neighbors volunteered to go door to door handing them out. I would say we had about 45 neighbors at our "pot luck" event. It was really touching to see old and young attending this event which we’re planning on doing again next year.
The next step was to start the Block Watch. Our first meeting was last week. If you’re in the city limits of Seattle, they have Crime Prevention Coordinators who will visit and speak at your first meeting.
It’s not the Block Watch that I had pictured: teaming up with a neighbor and armed with flashlights while you patrol the streets of your block at night. It’s really more about getting to know your neighbors more and creating a sense of community. Block watches are also about knowing what to do in the event of an emergency or if something suspicious is happening.
At our first meeting, neighbors talked about car prowlers and minor activities that have been happening around our block. Many of us had no idea and being informed helps you take actions to prevent crimes from happening to you.
We’re still organizing. This has just begun. My plan is to use email as much as possible with our Block Watch. Another neighbor and I are planning on "trick or treating" at the end of the month to visit our neighbors to make sure they’re aware of our efforts to establish the Block Watch and to see if they’re interested in participating (so far the support has been great).
If you’re interested in stating a Block Watch, I suggest the following:
- Contact neighbors to see if there is interest. I started with a couple "core" neighbors who I knew would help me get the group started.
- Contact your local police department to see if they have a Block Watch coordinator. Police departments are happy to help support Block Watch groups as they reduce crime in neighborhoods. See if they will attend your initial meeting.
- Create a flier and/or go door to door to invite your neighbors to a Block Watch meeting. We had about 10 people at our meeting last week. We will be doing a follow meeting in November since we did miss quite a few on the block.
- Our first meeting was very simple. We had a Crime Prevention Coordinator and I served coffee/tea and cookies. Various neighbors volunteered for task such as creating a map of the neighborhood, going door to door to spread awareness, gathering email and phone numbers, ordering our Block Watch sign…etc.
We’ve been living in our neighborhood for about 2 years. Since our first August night out and the last Block Watch meeting, I’m recognizing more neighbors and notice more people waving at each other.
My next goal is to work with the other Block Watches near our group so we can coordinate between each other. Once the group is set up, it’s really pretty easy and very beneficial.
Why not do something good for your neighborhood?