Neighborhood watch programs

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Volunteer group of community members who report suspicious or potentially criminal behavior to local law enforcement; intended to serve as an extra set of "eyes and ears" on behalf of law enforcement
  • Generally, watch groups are led by a a volunteer who serves as a designated liaison to local police
  • Typically, neighborhood watch groups meet regularly to determine goals and develop community safety plans
  • Some neighborhood watch groups also train residents in emergency preparedness and disaster response
Target Population
Community-wide
Cost per Participant
Not available

Evidence and impacts

Proven
  • Significant reductions in crime
  • Reduces instances of vandalism in some communities
  • Increases the flow of information between communities and law enforcement

Best practices in implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Identify a law enforcement officer with strong community ties and personal relationships to serve as the primary liaison to the neighborhood watch; the liaison should lead initial recruitment of watch members and provide ongoing support and communication.
  • Recruit broadly and encourage as many community members as possible to attend an initial meeting.
  • Develop a robust program rollout, including advertising (such as flyering and other announcement mediums), a community forum to address any concerns, and recruitment events.
  • Train neighborhood watch leaders on setting crime prevention goals and best practices for identifying and reporting suspicious activities.
  • Hold regular (weekly or monthly) group meetings, during which members can introduce new recruits, create plans, and troubleshoot ongoing challenges.
  • Partner with local, state, and national law enforcement agencies for administrative and financial support, including the production and distribution of materials to boost the visibility of the neighborhood watch within the community.
  • Consider supplementing the rollout of a neighborhood watch with signage indicating the group’s presence, the administration of home security surveys, additional victim support services, and educational programs.