October is National Crime Prevention Month:
But Preventing Crime Is A Year-Round
Since 1984, when the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) established October as National Crime Prevention Month, law enforcement agencies around the country have been taking advantage of the additional focus on crime prevention to encourage safer behavior. The NCPC helps local agencies plan outreach and education programs that stress common sense and collaboration between community members and law enforcement. Some programs that the NCPC has sponsored include the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol program in San Diego, California; the Volunteers in Police Service in Billings, Montana; Real Estate Watch in Hamilton, Ohio; the Community–Police Partnership program in Bath, Maine; and the Metro Citizens Corps in Washington, D.C.
This year, the NCPC and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), with the support of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, created an initiative called Celebrate Safe Communities (CSC). And this month, the NSA and the NCPC is promoting the CSC project, particularly in areas affected by recent surges in violent crime, by distributing information on crime prevention and safety aimed at all ages and population segments; involving all public safety agencies, including fire and medical services; sharing tips to encourage continuous safety initiatives; developing a resource center on the Internet to facilitate police interaction with communities; and encouraging local programs with awards and other recognition.
A long-standing successful program that has allied law enforcement with communities is Neighborhood Watch. Its programs are organized by concerned citizens with the assistance of police and generally have no formal budget, relying instead on volunteers to provide time and resources. They tend to be organized around blocks or streets and rely on the presence of citizen patrols and placards and other signs to deter crime, rather than attempting to catch criminals in the act. As of 2000, 41 percent of the American population lived in areas patrolled by Neighborhood Watch, making it the largest community-oriented, crime-prevention effort in the United States.
As part of the Crime Prevention Research Review Series produced by the COPS Office, the Campbell Collaboration Crime and Justice Group examined the effectiveness of Neighborhood Watch programs in the United States and the United Kingdom. The publication, Does Neighborhood Watch Reduce Crime?, reviews studies evaluating the effectiveness of Neighborhood Watch programs, summarizes the findings, and discusses their policy implications.
For guidance in promoting a safety campaign in your community, be sure to look at the publication, Crime Prevention Publicity Campaigns, a joint effort of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (the COPS Office) and the Center for Problem- Oriented Policing. It discusses how law enforcement agencies can help remove crime opportunities by using certain kinds of publicity campaigns as problem-solving tools to teach and encourage the public to adopt better self-protection measures, and to warn offenders of increased police vigilance.
Whether your community-oriented policing outreach is a Neighborhood Watch, a specialized program for National Crime Prevention Month, or comes in other format, the COPS Office encourages you to take advantage of our web site for resources and assistance.
COPS Office Resources
Crime Prevention Publicity Campaigns: www.cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/ResourceDetail.aspx?RID=75.
Does Neighborhood Watch Reduce Crime? www.cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/ResourceDetail.aspx?RID=460.
National Crime Prevention Month:
Celebrate Safe Communities: