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Are you worried about crime in your neighborhood?

You're not alone. Most likely, your neighbors are concerned, too.

How does a Neighborhood Watch work? It works by showing residents they are not powerless against crime.

SafetyWatch is a series of programs designed to promote neighborhood safety in response to the growth of residential areas and the crime rate increase that results from such growth. The main focus of SafetyWatch is crime prevention at the neighborhood level. However, traffic problems, street/yard cleanup, noise control and unwanted solicitation, are other issues dealt with through SafetyWatch. In conjunction with these programs, the police are relying on you to do your part in the protection of yourself, your family, and your property. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to establish adequate home security in addition to practicing good safety habits. A Neighborhood Watch Program can provide:

  • Crime Prevention Training: For example, a Watch group can invite law enforcement and security experts to speak about safety measures.
  • Victim Assistance: Watch groups can provide support by helping crime victims contact the police or sheriff and local victim-assistance programs.
  • Improving Conditions: Neighborhood neglect invites crime. Organize cleanups and work with local government to get abandoned buildings and vacant lots fixed up.
  • Citizen Patrols: A group of trained volunteers walks or drives a specified route, keeping an eye out for problems.

Neighborhood Watches don't replace law enforcement. Working with the police is important!

How to Start a Neighborhood Watch

  • Meet with Your Neighbors: Share concerns about crime.
  • Inform the Lexington Division of Police: Call 258-3636 and let them know you plan to form a Watch Group. They can provide crime prevention information, training, Neighborhood Watch signs, and decals for public display.
  • Make a Plan: Define your territory, set priorities and elect officers. Divide up tasks to avoid 1 or 2 people doing all the work and consider giving your group a name.

You Can Help Law Enforcement by looking out for Suspicious Activity:

  • A vehicle making slow, repeated trips through the neighborhood.
  • A stranger hanging around parking lots, going door-to-door or jogging in street clothes.
  • Unusual noises
  • Property being removed from a home when the residents aren't there.

Know how to report your suspicions

  • Give the police a physical description, including sex, race and approximate size and age.
  • A direction of travel.
  • License Plate number and state
  • Make, model and color of vehicle.

Your Watch group can target specific problems:

  • Drug Dealers: Have citizen patrols target areas where people buy and sell drugs. Report drug activity - never confront anyone on your own. Organize antidrug rallies.
  • Vandalism: Painting over graffiti right away. Organizing citizen patrols for areas where vandalism is common.
  • Break-ins: Consider installing more lighting around homes and areas of high vandalism. Promote home security inspections. Step up efforts to keep an eye on each other's homes.
  • Violence Against Children: Choose "safe houses" on each block where children can go if they are afraid. Have "block parents"--trusted adults at home during the day who can watch out for children on their blocks.
  • Assault: Offer escorts for the elderly or others when they have to walk alone in the neighborhood. Cut back trees and shrubs where attackers could hide. Patrol areas where people feel the most vulnerable. Push for improved street lighting.
  • Family Violence: Neighbors should contact a family violence hotline or local crisis shelter about the best way to report family abuse.

Call the Community Services Section at 258-3636 to find out if there is an organized SafetyWatch program in your area.

Last updated: 10/23/2008 4:25:42 PM