Neighborhood Watch Program
By definition, Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program that enlists the active participation of citizens in cooperation with law enforcement and municipal authorities. In Bellflower, the program has taken the form of a partnership among the City's residents, businesses, staff, and the deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. For many years, Neighborhood Watch has been a cornerstone of Bellflower's Community Policing Program.
Neighborhood Watch involves neighbors getting to know each other, which does not happen as easily in these busy times as it did in the past. Without the trust built by close acquaintance, the communication and cooperation essential to an effective program probably will not occur. When neighbors are comfortable with each other, they are much more likely to share information, work together to improve conditions on their block, and look out for their neighbors' families and property. Neighborhood Watch encourages regular meetings, as well as get-togethers such as seasonal block parties to help build this closeness and trust.
Neighborhood Watch involves communication, both among neighbors and with law enforcement. There will always be a limited number of deputies patrolling Bellflower, and most of the time they are answering calls for service, one after the other, with little time left over for random patrol. Therefore, the best information about what is happening on a given block will always come from the residents. For Neighborhood Watch to work as it should, there must be a resolution among neighbors to share this information, and to call law enforcement whenever there is a need.
Neighborhood Watch involves education. In addition to motivating participants to observe and report criminal activity, the program teaches them how to be most effective in doing so. In Bellflower there are a number of resources besides the Sheriff's Department available to aid residents in preventing crime and eliminating unwanted conditions in their area, and many people only learn about these through participation in Neighborhood Watch. The program teaches people strategies for more effective personal, vehicle, and home security. Many of these could be labeled as just common sense, for example reminding drivers to lock their passenger-side doors when driving alone. It certainly is common sense, but an occasional reminder can serve to shake people out of their complacency and possibly prevent them from becoming victims.
Finally, Neighborhood Watch involves a change of attitude. Regardless of how many crime stories appear in the newspaper or on television, the attitude persists that crime only happens to the other guy. Almost certainly, the victims in these stories felt the same way, at least they did until it happened to them. To be effective, citizens must admit to themselves that there will always be victimizers out there, that they are just as likely to be the target of these people as anyone else, and that they can to a great extent prevent themselves from becoming victims, by paying attention and taking a few relatively simple steps. There is no desire to create widespread paranoia within our community, but it is an established fact that criminals seek out those who are unprepared for them. Neighborhood Watch helps people to become better prepared.
Citywide participation in Neighborhood Watch is perhaps the best means of sending a message to criminals that Bellflower's residents are informed, prepared, and committed to a safe and crime-free community.
Code Enforcement Inspector I/Neighborhood Watch Coordinator
(562) 804-1424, ext. 2505