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Are Neighborhood Watches Failing?

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Dallas South News Wire (Neighborhood Watch Alerts, Inc.)

Twenty percent of U.S. adults participate in either a formal or informal Neighborhood Watch program and 76% of those participants don’t feel they get timely information from other participants or the police. Further, 4 out of 5 respondents wanted more information from their local police departments. These and other findings were gleaned from a comprehensive study of more than 2000 participants in formal and informal neighborhood watch programs.

According to Phil Petree, President of NWA, Inc., the company that owns and who conducted the study, “the majority of residents in neighborhood watch programs just don’t feel they are getting the information they need and some (roughly 20%) say that even though signs exist at the entrance to their communities, they wonder if there really is a Neighborhood Watch program in place. According to Bonnie Holland of Calhoun, Georgia, “I have lived in my house for 12 years and although there are signs at the entrance to our subdivision, there has never been a meeting or notice of a crime passed around in all that time!”

“There are many great, active and well run Neighborhood Watch programs in the US but, by and large, the fact still remains that people want and need better communications with their neighbors and between law enforcement and the neighborhoods and that’s why we created” said Phil Petree “It’s a meaningful way to revitalize and modernize the Neighborhood Watch program.

“With we are providing a free means for neighbors to electronically alert each other of suspicious activity and for police departments to quickly and easily get important information out to the appropriate neighborhoods or to their entire jurisdiction.”

This is important because neighborhoods with active watch programs have 16% lower crime rates and adding in the ability for neighbors to quickly and efficiently send alerts to each other can reduce that even further. Times have changed. In the early days of Neighborhood Watch programs the block captain worked a phone chain to keep neighbors informed but with today’s busy society it’s often impossible to reach people or get information to them in a timely manner. According to Shelley van der Bunt, a Weston, Florida resident and user of, “What I like best is that I can get an email alert right on my blackberry so no matter where I am, I know when there’s a safety issue in my neighborhood.”

In addition to neighbor-to-neighbor alerts, police departments can use the system for FREE to notify communities within their jurisdiction of important safety issues including: Criminal activity, major traffic events or road closures, emergency evacuations and school lockdowns.

Virtually all of the police departments involved all agree that quick, easy and timely communications out to their jurisdiction is a key benefit of using “This is a great tool for law enforcement because it allows sheriffs to quickly and easily target specific areas of their jurisdictions without waiting on traditional news media.” said Steve Casey of the Florida Sheriffs Association.

Peter Aronstam of Boca Raton told this story: “I was recently visiting a friend when all of a sudden police were all over the neighborhood and had choppers in the air. Turns out they were looking for an Alzheimer’s patient that had wandered away from their home. I told my wife that if this neighborhood had, this could have been solved in 5 minutes!”, based out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida provides free email or text message alerts for all neighborhoods with OR without formal or informal neighborhood watch programs. Founded in 2010, although privately held, the company works with many local, state and federal agencies in developing emergency alerts.

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