Stephanie Mann, founder of Neighborhood Watch and well known author, enlightened my understanding in our recent conversation as we shared ideas on our options here in Humboldt County, where drug dealers are evicted from one neighborhood and promptly move into another one. We know how to get them evicted, but do we know how to keep them from reappearing in our community? Getting them out requires more effort than keeping them out or not letting them in. Discouraging drug houses in your neighborhood is done by the same process regardless of it being before or after the problem.
For those of you who have no drug houses in your neighborhoods (yet), we strongly urge you to set up Neighborhood Watch Programs. Put the “Neighborhood Watch” The sign out on the street. Drug dealers and drug users hate being watched. The sign works as well as a vaccine for a disease. Immunity is it’s by product. Neighborhood watch confirms the importance of community. There is power in neighbors watching out for each other, being aware of what and who is different. Designating safe houses for children and building partnerships with their local police. Become aware of crime problems in your area. Research them. You will discover that most local crime is committed by local people.
Most criminals target property, not people. Neighbors are 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. Neighbors can befriend local children and keep them from joining gangs or talk to battered women to help prevent abuse from becoming a tragedy. Groups of neighbors file suits, organize campaigns and cause the removal of undesirable things from their neighborhood. Neighbors can detect the kind of crime that rarely gets news coverage, such as vandalism, petty theft, auto break-ins, and similar problems that can escalate if ignored.
You and your neighbors are citizens in a democracy. You play a crucial roll in preserving public safety. We are a free society. It is up to us to keep it free and safe. Those who study criminal behavior, tell us that it is harder to pull off crimes in communities where neighbors watch out for each other. Criminals would much rather work neighborhoods where people are indifferent, too busy or too afraid to come out from behind their locked doors. When it comes to stopping crime, neighborhood groups have the best track record.
Local crime prevention groups reduced burglaries by 66% in Jackson, Michigan within a few years. In Tampa Florida, Citizens for a Decent Community, stopped drug dealing in 140 of the 150 known crack houses, and put a serious dent in the business of the remaining 10. In Oakland California, a group of apartment dwellers improved their safety by having informal building captains look for suspicious activities and report crime.
Stephanie Mann worked with neighbors to prevent crime in Orinda California. In 1969 the neighbors had experienced more than 500 residential burglaries, and had a serious drug problem at the high school. Within 2 ½ years, the founding committee grew from 9 members to several hundred. The burglary rate in dropped by 48% as a result of community involvement and in 1991, Orinda had 38 burglaries. Stephanie’s book, 'Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods' defines every step of the way to assist in organizing neighborhood groups for the benefit of communities everywhere. 'Alternative to Fear' is another one of her great books. She wrote it originally for citizens, but it sold to thousands of police departments. These books and more can be ordered on line at www.stephanielmann.com. The information here in is from the wisdom and the writings of Stephanie Mann, compiled for the safety of your families, your homes, and your communities.
This article is sponsored by Toastmasters International on behalf of our community service organizations. Submitted by Rebecca Kimbel Area Gov. Toastmasters International