What is a Blockwatch?
Neighborhood Blockwatch has proven itself as one of the most effective ways for citizens to get involved in
the fight against crime. The fact is, the police alone cannot control crime; they need the help of an alert and concerned
public. Safe streets and neighborhoods are everyone's concern and Neighborhood Blockwatch provides a means for everyone to
be responsibly involved in the fight against crime.
How does it work?
Blockwatch establishes a formal network for citizens to exchange ideas and information with their neighbors
and with the police. Through a specially designed sequence of neighborhood meetings, the residents learn how to become the
extended eyes and ears of the police, reporting on suspicious or unusual activity in their communities and forwarding that
information to the proper authorities. Participants of a Blockwatch also learn the best techniques for securing their homes
and property, along with tips on personal safety for themselves and their families when shopping, traveling and engaging in
other activities away from home.
Under no circumstances are Blockwatch participants asked to perform law enforcement duties. That is the job
of the police. There are no Blockwatch tasks that would put anyone at risk. Most Blockwatch duties are performed in the course
of everyday activities around the neighborhood. Being a Blockwatch participant does not detract from working schedules or
How can a 'Blockwatch' help me?
In Columbus and elsewhere, studies have shown that citizens and law enforcement officers working together can
have a positive impact on the crime rate. Blockwatch is the best way for everyone to get involved. However, for the Blockwatch
to stay effective, the participants must be committed to making it work.
How do I get involved?
As a general rule, the formation of a BlockWatch requires several meetings that cover:
At the first meetings organizational details are discussed, including what is expected of Blockwatch participants,
geographical boundaries, and selection of block captains and/or coordinators. The first meeting may also cover basic information
about the organization of the Division of Police, use of 911, how to call in suspicious persons or activity and other immediate
concerns of attendees.
The next phase is generally devoted to home security and target-hardening, including information about door
and window locks, alarm systems and burglary prevention information.
The third phase is usually concerned with personal safety, street crimes, sexual assault, and any other areas
not covered at the other meetings. Since the third meeting is usually the last in the sequence, any remaining organizational
matters are finalized.
This meeting sequence is purposely kept flexible, since different neighborhoods have different needs. If, for
example, a new BlockWatch area is experiencing significant burglary problems, it may be desirable to cover home security at
the first meeting, even if organizational details must be postponed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. There is no crime in our neighborhood. Should we still try to start a Blockwatch?
A. Maybe. The fact that many neighborhoods are virtually crime-free does not make them immune. Criminal activity
knows no geographical boundary, and provided that enough initial interest can be generated, the fact that your neighborhood
is crime-free may be the best reason to establish a Blockwatch now. It should be stressed that every successful BlockWatch,
regardless of the crime rate, requires involved, interested, and committed participants.
Q. I don't like to go to a lot of meetings. Can I still be a Blockwatch participant?
A. Yes. Most new Neighborhood Blockwatches require only two or three weekly or biweekly meetings to get started.
After that period, an occasional maintenance meeting is recommended to keep BlockWatch participants active and interested.
Q. Who conducts the meetings?
A. The initial Blockwatch meetings are conducted by community liaison officers and community trainers who are well-trained in crime prevention techniques, organizational skills and community leadership. Depending upon
the size of the Blockwatch, a few volunteers are needed in getting the program started, and moving in the right direction.
Q. Won't the Blockwatch program just result in a lot of frivolous and unnecessary calls to the
A. No. Remember that you are the best one to judge whether something is normal or not normal in your neighborhood.
Even if your call turns out to be a false alarm, it is better to let trained police officers make that determination. Of course,
as a Blockwatch participant, you will receive instruction on what constitutes a true emergency as opposed to something which
simply needs routine police attention. Blockwatch participants receive information on the proper use of the 911 system for
real emergency situations.
Q. How do we obtain Neighborhood Blockwatch signs?
A. As a general rule, a minimum 50% level of participation, by number of households in a Blockwatch area, is
necessary for obtaining signs. However, the crime prevention officer may recommend signs for neighborhoods which demonstrate
a strong commitment to the program but fall short of the 50% participation level. Of course, any Blockwatch which becomes
inactive is subject to having the signs removed.
Q. How do we get started?
A. Contact the Community Liaison Section of the Columbus Division of Police at 645- 4610. You will be referred
to the crime prevention officer in your area, who will explain all of the necessary steps for getting a Blockwatch started
in your neighborhood