prevention is a job for you and your neighbors because you are
the people in the best - and often the only - position to do it.
The criminal justice system
- the police, courts and prisons,
primarily deal with crime after it takes
arrest criminals and play a role in preventing crime.
But a police force can never take the place of strong ties among
people in the community. It's neighbors who have the most power
to stop a crime from happening in the first place.
They are most likely to be the first ones to spot a burglar trying
to break into your house or to call for help if they see someone
attacking you or threatening your child near home.
Neighbors are the ones who can befriend local children to keep
them from joining gangs,
or talk to a battered woman to possibly
prevent her abuse from turning into a violent tragedy.
A group of neighbors can file suit in small claims court to shut
down crack houses and organize campaigns against drug dealers or
Neighbors can trim overgrown shrubs and pressure city hall to
street lighting, depriving muggers of a hiding place.
They can spot incidents of graffiti that will invite greater problems
Neighbors can detect the kinds of crimes that rarely get news coverage,
such as vandalism, petty thefts, auto break-ins and similar problems
that can escalate unless they are nipped in the bud.
You and your neighbors also need to recognize one more important
reason why it's up to you to prevent crime: As citizens in a democracy,
you play a crucial role in preserving public safety.
In taking the initiative in crime prevention, you and your neighbors
not only keep criminals at bay, but you also help to reduce the
potential for abuse of authority by public officials.
Criminals and the people who study them will tell you that it's
harder to pull off crimes in communities where neighbors watch
out for one another
than in areas where neighbors exist in isolation.
Criminals would much rather work neighborhoods where people are
to busy or too scared to come out from behind
their locked doors.
Join or start a Neighborhood Watch Program today