Neighborhood Watch: HistoryIn 1972, the National Sheriff's Association developed a model program for today's Neighborhood Watch program. At that time, Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs from around the country were requesting a program that would squelch the increasing burglary rate across the United States. It was discovered that in communities in which citizens observed and reported suspicious activity, the burglary rate was lower.
As society became more mobile and faster paced and more households had both the husband and wife working outside the home, neighborhoods became deserted during the daytime. Neighbors stopped being concerned about their neighbor's property and began keeping more to themselves. The unity and cohesion of the traditional neighborhood was gradually deteriorating.
Along with law enforcement officers, criminals recognized this trend and began to take advantage of the situation by moving in and out of neighborhoods without causing alarm or suspicion. Law enforcement agencies alone were not able to keep up with the rise in burglaries.
Numerous communities adopted and implemented the model program with astounding success. The rate of specific crimes such as burglary decreased as much as 75%. Implementation of Neighborhood Watch programs also resulted in substantial reduction of other crimes.
In 1976, the Bowling Green Police Department Crime Prevention Unit implemented the Neighborhood Watch program. Certain neighborhoods around Bowling Green were targeted for the program due to the increase in the number of criminal mischief incidents involving juveniles. Neighborhood Watch began to work because people wanted to assume a more active role in making their neighborhood safe. It was impractical to place a police officer into each neighborhood and very practical to utilize the citizens. Residents within a neighborhood know who belongs and who does not, and what activity is suspicious. The most important reason Neighborhood Watch worked is that citizens began working with the Bowling Green Police Department, instead of relying on law enforcement to combat crime.
As the number of success stories about Neighborhood Watch increase, more and more neighborhoods adopt the program. Today, there are over fifty active neighborhood groups participating in Neighborhood Watch in Bowling Green. After the group establishes a foundation, other issues are addressed such as personal safety, City and County Planning, street repairs, and street lighting. Today, the Bowling Green Police Department works closely with the Neighborhood Services Office to organize and support neighborhood associations and other groups who make Neighborhood Watch an important part of their quality of life.