A neighborhood watch or neighbourhood watch (see spelling
differences), also called a crime watch or neighbourhood crime watch,
is an organized group of civilians devoted to crime and vandalism
prevention within a neighborhood.
The aim of neighborhood watch includes educating residents of a
community on security and safety and achieving safe and secure
neighborhoods. However, when a criminal activity is suspected, members
are encouraged to report to authorities, and not to intervene.
In the United States, neighborhood watch builds on the concept of a
town watch from Colonial America.
1.1 Town watch
2.1 In the United States
4 List of neighborhood watch organizations
5 See also
7 External links
A neighborhood watch may be organized as its own group or may simply
be a function of a neighborhood association or other community
Neighborhood watches are not vigilante organizations. When suspecting
criminal activities, members are encouraged to contact authorities and
not to intervene.
The town watch program is similar to that of the neighborhood watch,
the major difference is that the Town Watch tend to actively patrol in
pseudo-uniforms, i.e. marked vests or jackets and caps, and is
equipped with two way radios to directly contact the local police. The
Town Watch serves as an auxiliary to the police which provides weapons
(if any), equipment, and training. The town watch usually returns
their gear at the end of their duty.
Like the town watchman of colonial America, each civilian must take an
active interest in protecting his or her neighbors and be willing to
give his or her time and effort to this volunteer activity.
In the United States
The current American system of neighborhood watches began developing
in the late 1960s as a response to the rape and murder of Kitty
Genovese in Queens, New York. People became outraged after reports
that a dozen witnesses did nothing to save Genovese or to apprehend
her killer. Inspired in part by Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of
Great American Cities (1961), which stated that Americans need to keep
their "eyes on the streets" and connect with each other in their
neighborhoods, National Law Enforcement Agencies began pushing for
community members to get more involved with reporting crimes at the
local level. Some local civilians formed groups to watch over their
neighborhoods and to look out for any suspicious activity in their
areas. Shortly thereafter, the
National Sheriffs' Association
National Sheriffs' Association began a
concerted effort in 1972 to revitalize the "watch group" effort
nationwide. During the first few years of the program, neighborhood
watch functioned primarily as an intermediary between local law
enforcement agencies and neighborhoods, to pass along information
about burglaries and thefts in specific neighborhoods. Soon
thereafter, the neighborhood watch became more involved and partnered
with law enforcement agencies to report other types of crime as
The neighborhood watch system gained intense media attention after the
February 2012 fatal shooting of teenager
Trayvon Martin in Sanford,
Florida by George Zimmerman, an appointed neighborhood watch
coordinator. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was tried for
second-degree murder and manslaughter before he was acquitted from all
charges. His actions on the night of the shooting generated
controversy as he exited his vehicle and was carrying a gun, both of
which go against neighborhood watch recommendations. He has
also been accused by prosecutors of profiling Martin, and he was
investigated by the
United States Department of Justice for possibly
committing a racial hate crime. However, the FBI concluded their
investigation and dropped its charges. Martin was black and
Zimmerman is a mixed-race Hispanic.
In another incident involving a neighborhood watch, Eliyahu
Werdesheim, part of an Orthodox Jewish community in Maryland, was
convicted in May 2012 of second-degree assault and false imprisonment
for beating and then pinning down a teenager he thought suspicious in
2010. Werdersheim and his brother, who had also been charged in the
case but was acquitted, chose a bench trial, contending they would not
get a fair trial due to the publicity over the Martin case. He
was given a three-year suspended sentence and three years of probation
at sentencing in June 2012. In December 2013, Werdesheim's
probation was cut short, and he was released at the end of the
A June 2012
New York Times
New York Times article reported that neighborhood watches
in the New York City area are growing again after decades of decrease
due to lower crime rates. It also said that neighborhood watch groups
fell under scrutiny since the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
In response to the
Trayvon Martin case, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson
Lee (D-Texas) began drafting a bill that would require neighborhood
watch groups to be certified and limit their duties. Currently, with
local police agencies setting guidelines for their neighborhood
watches, groups across the U.S. vary greatly in their scope, function,
the level of activity by their members, and training. Robert McCrie,
professor of security management at John Jay College of Criminal
Justice in New York City, disagrees with Lee's initiative. He believes
that standards for neighborhood watches “are best left to the state
or local community,” although he would support background checks for
List of neighborhood watch organizations
Block Parent Program (Canada)
Citizen Observer (United States)
Crimestoppers (United States,
United Kingdom and Australia)
Guardian Angels (United States)
Neighborhood Watch Program (United States)
National Night Out
National Night Out - National Association of Town Watch (United
Neighbourhood Watch (United Kingdom)
Inminban (North Korea)
PubWatch (United Kingdom)
Senkom Mitra Polri (Indonesia)
United States and United Kingdom)
Voluntary People's Druzhina
Voluntary People's Druzhina (Soviet Union)
Zona Protegida (Brasil)
Neighbourhood Watch Australasia, (
Australia and New Zealand)
Neighborhood Watch Programs United States
Pioneerspark Neighbourhood watch(Windhoek, Namibia)
Neighbourhood action group
Civil Guard (Israel)
Watchman (law enforcement)
^ National Sheriffs' Association. "Logo Usage Information". NNW.org.
Retrieved February 5, 2015.
^ Rasenberger, Jim (October 2006). "Nightmare On Austin Street".
American Heritage Magazine.
^ Jacobs, J. (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New
York, NY: Vintage Books.
^ Palmer, B. (2012, March 21). Do
Neighborhood Watch Programs Decrease
Crime? Retrieved April 29, 2017, from
^ ncpc.org Archived 2006-07-03 at the Wayback Machine.
^ NNW.org (2017) “About National
Neighborhood Watch.” Retrieved
April 29, 2017, from
^ Robertson, Campbell; Schwartz, John (March 22, 2012). "Trayvon
Martin Death Spotlights
Neighborhood Watch Groups". The New York
^ a b "
George Zimmerman charged, hearing expected Thursday". CNN.
April 11, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
^ Robles, Frances (March 17, 2012). "Shooter of
Trayvon Martin a
habitual caller to cops". The Miami Herald. Retrieved March 20,
^ Simon, Mallory; McConnell, Dugald (March 23, 2012). "Neighbors
describe watch leader". CNN. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
^ "Justice Department, FBI to probe
Florida teen's death". CNN. March
20, 2012. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
^ Hamacher, Brian. "
George Zimmerman Makes First Appearance Before
Judge". NBC Miami. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
^ "Convictions against Eliyahu Werdesheim stricken in Baltimore
neighborhood watch beating case". tribunedigital-baltimoresun.
^ "Judge grants Werdesheim brothers bench trial". wbaltv.com. April
^ a b Sodaro, John. "Shadow Policing".
^ "Probation in Md. neighborhood watch beating case". Associated
Press. June 27, 2012.
^ Duncan, I. (2013, December 17). "Convictions stricken in
neighborhood watch beating case." The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April
^ Wilson, Michael (June 22, 2012). "Far From a Shooting in Florida, an
Increase in Block Watchers". New York Times.
National Town Watch Association official site
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