Table of Contents
Crime Watch Basics
1. What is Neighborhood Crime Watch?
2. How Do I Start a Neighborhood Crime Watch Group?
3. How Many People Do I Need to Participate?
4. What Are the Roles and Responsibilities in a Neighborhood Crime Watch Group?
5. How Much Time Do I Have to Spend?
6. How Do I “Sell” the Idea of a Neighborhood Crime Watch to My Neighbors?
7. How Does My Law Enforcement Representative Help Neighborhood Crime Watch?
8. How Does My Neighborhood Crime Watch Group Get Crime Watch Signs?
The First Meeting
1. Where to Have the Meeting
2. How to Plan the First Meeting
3. First Meeting Agenda
4. Reasons for Crime Watch
5. Tips for a Successful Meeting
6. Sample Invitation Letter
Crime Watch in Action
1. We’ve Got a Group Going. What Do We Do Now?
2. Reporting Suspicious or Criminal Activity
3. Examples of Suspicious Activity
4. Care Enough to Call
5. How to Report a Crime
6. What Response to Expect in Regard to Your Call
7. Operation I.D. Program
8. Home Security Survey Program
9. Some Suggestions for Home Security
10. Participate in National Night Out
Keep Your Crime Watch Active
1. Keep Up the Good Work!
2. Guidelines to Maintain an Active Crime Watch Program
3. Resources Available for Meetings
4. Free Services Provided by the Dallas Police Department
5. How to Promote Meetings
6. Social Functions
7. Establish Yourselves as a Nonprofit Organization
8. Set Up Bylaws
Important Phone Numbers & Computer Links
1. Other Important Numbers
2. Dallas Police Department
Crime Watch Basics
What is Neighborhood Crime Watch?
A Neighborhood Crime Watch is an organization that helps residents in a particular neighborhood: prevent or reduce crime in that neighborhood, develop a positive rapport with law enforcement, and become the “eyes and ears” for law enforcement. At Crime Watch meetings, residents discuss and plan potential solutions to address the area’s crime problems. Neighborhood Crime Watch is also a great way to meet and get to know your neighbors, which enhances everyone’s safety in the neighborhood.
Neighborhood Crime Watch groups are organizations that:
- teach citizens techniques to reduce the risk of being victimized at home and in public.
- train citizens to recognize and report suspicious activities.
- teach participants how to make their homes more secure and how to properly identify their property.
- allow neighbors to get to know each other and their routines so that unusual activity can be reported and investigated.
- bring citizens together to address the needs and issues that concern the entire community.
Neighborhood Crime Watch groups are not:
- vigilante forces working outside the normal procedures of law enforcement.
- programs designed for participants to take personal risks to prevent crime.
- a 100% guarantee that crime will not occur in your neighborhood.
The leader of the Neighborhood Crime Watch program is
A block coordinator/captain selected by your own group. This person or persons will
- organize “block” activity,
- distribute crime prevention literature to members of the group,
- represent their area or section at other Neighborhood Crime Watch activities in the community.
- help distribute information about other types of activity taking place in your community.
- complete a block map containing first and last names, addresses and phone numbers of all residents in their neighborhood whether or not the household participates. This map is then used to supply information for each resident concerning adjacent residents, using the enclosed form.
How Do I Start a Neighborhood Crime Watch Group?
You can easily start a Neighborhood Crime Watch by following the steps below. Check each item as completed:
Step 1: Call the Dallas Police Department (DPD) substation near you to let them know you are interested in starting a neighborhood watch program. Discuss the types of crime that are prevalent in your neighborhood, and what type of neighborhood you live in (apartment, subdivision, scattered rural homes, etc.).
Step 2: Contact your neighbors to find out who is interested. Visit them door-to-door. Going door-to-door is a great way to promote Neighborhood Crime Watch, but TAKE SOMEONE WITH YOU. Never walk door-to-door alone. (Note: residents are more likely to open the door to a man and woman than to two men.) When you talk to your neighbors, discuss crime problems in your area, explain the value of the program, and determine a good time to schedule the first meeting. Keep a list of everyone’s preferences and write down their comments.
Step 3: Plan a get-together along with a representative from your law enforcement. Be sure to call the DPD substation near you to secure a representative and get help planning the meeting. Coffee, baked goods and lemonade or soft drinks can be served.
How Many People Do I Need to Participate?
It can be as many people as want to participate where you live. The DPD must officially recognize a Crime Watch organization before signs in your neighborhood may be installed. DPD can provide you with places that signs may be purchased, and if assistance is needed, in gaining DPD recognition.
What are Crime Watch Roles and Responsibilities?
Roles and responsibilities within a Crime Watch group can and will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood depending on availability of volunteers. Here are some examples you might consider.
- Coordinates activities of Block Captains and Block Watchers.
- Recruits neighborhood residents into the Crime Watch program.
- Acts as a liaison with the police or sheriff’s office and the neighborhood.
- Distributes information.
- Plans and conducts crime watch meetings that are regularly scheduled.
- Develops communication systems and maintains a telephone tree and possibly a voice mail alert system (see information below)
Works with the Neighborhood Coordinator to:
- Host a Crime Watch meeting for the people on their block
- Recruit neighborhood residents into the Crime Watch program by visiting each home, apartment, and/or business in their block, announcing the meeting and encouraging neighbors to participate.
- Contact neighbors who have not responded to fliers or participated in the program.
- Distribute Crime Prevention materials to those residents who were unable to attend meetings.
- Serve as a base station for Operation Identification; neighbors pick up Operation Identification materials from their Block Captain in order to participate in the program — the higher the percentage of participation, the higher the effectiveness of this program.
- Be a liaison between the residents and the Neighborhood Coordinator, assist Neighborhood Coordinator by communicating with law enforcement representatives.
- Promote and distribute a copy of all scheduled Crime Watch meetings, upcoming events, and special activities to everyone on their block.
- Acts as eyes and ears for their neighbors and reports suspicious activities.
- Studies crime prevention materials furnished to them.
- Checks neighbors’ homes when they are out of town.
- Cooperates and assists the Block Captain.
- Participates in Operation Identification.
- VOICEMAIL is one way that many crimewatch organizations get information around within the community. Whenever voice mail systems are changed, or important or critical information is posted, many groups have strategically placed neighborhood signs. These must be placed on private property, and often City ordinances allow for them to be posted for a limited number of days. Members can also alert other members of the group by leaving voice mail information whenever something occurs that meets their basic needs and criteria. VOICEMAIL SYSTEMS – DPD may be able to provide a source of voice mail systems. These do not have to be expensive, often around $10/month. One used in a number of communities around Dallas is:
P.O. Bx. 55600…Little Rock, AR…72215-5560
Toll Free: 888-458-7167
- EMAIL ALERTS – Another way that crimewatch organizations get information around within their community. Collect the email addresses of as many neighbors as possible and set up an email blast whenever alert information needs to be transmitted. Our office can provide some technical support on how to do this, if you do not have an internet-savvy member of your crimewatch.
- FACEBOOK, TWITTER – Many Groups today are utilizing FaceBook, Twitter and other social media to organize their groups.
4. What is Nextdoor – Nextdoor is a private social network for your neighborhood. It’s the easiest way for you and your neighbors—and only you and your neighbors—to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it’s free. Hundreds of neighborhoods are already using Nextdoor to build happier, safer places to call home. Crime Watch groups often use Nextdoor to:
- Find a new home for an outgrown bike
- Track down a trustworthy babysitter
- Quickly get the word out about a break-in
- Find out who does the best paint job in town
- Organize a garage sale
- Ask for help keeping an eye out for a lost dog
- Finally call that nice man down the street by his first name.
Nextdoor’s mission is to bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood, one of the most important communities in each of our lives. Find more information at www.Nextdoor.com.
- What is Nixle? – Nixle is a Community Information Service dedicated to helping you stay connected to the information that matters most to you, depending on your physical location. Connected to your local police department, your children’s schools, your local community agencies and organizations, and the important information from other locations throughout the country that are relevant to you. Nixle is built on the most secure, reliable, and high-speed distribution platform, ensuring that you receive trusted and immediate, geographically relevant information. Information is immediately available over your cell phone by text message, by email, and over the web. Your account can be customized so you receive the information that matters most to you. Whether it is where you live, work, or have friends or family throughout the country, the information is immediately available to you over your mobile phone, email and computer. Go to www.nixle.com to sign-up.
- What is iWatchDallas? – iWatchDallas is a virtual crime watch that you and your neighbors can use to report behaviors and activities that make you feel uncomfortable or do not look right. iWatchDallas is a program and partnership between your community and the Dallas Police Department.
Why should I report these behaviors and activities?
Like traditional neighborhood crime watches, your awareness reported to the police can help solve crimes or even prevent a terrorist attack. iWatchDallas is a program about suspicious behaviors and activities.
What should I report?
Give as many details as possible, for example:
< Time of day
< Where it happened
< What you witnessed
< A description of individual(s) involved
< Was there a vehicle?
< Color and license number?
< Have you seen this activity before?
There are four ways to report:
< Report online at iWatchDallas.net
< Text a tip by entering “DPD plus your tip” to 274637 (crimes)
Download the iWatch Dallas app at www.iWatchDallas.net
< Call 214-671-4TIP
If you have an emergency and need the police immediately do not use iWatchDallas, call 911. Prowler calls should be made to 911.
If you see something, say something – A simple observation, a single report can help solve a crime. If one person can make a difference, consider what an entire community can do.
Dallas Police Department Volunteer Programs:
The Dallas Police Department has a number of volunteer opportunities that are often developed in conjunction with a Neighborhood Crime Watch. When you meet with DPD’s representative, be sure to ask for more details about any that you might find of interest. The Dallas Police Department currently has several volunteer programs. All volunteers must attend the required training course for the desired program. Most training classes are offered at the seven substations and usually last between 2 to 12 hours, depending on the program requirements.
DPD’s current programs are:
|VIP- Volunteers in Patrol: This program is designed to reduce crime by having citizens patrol their own neighborhoods and report any suspicious or criminal activity to the police.
CHIPS- Citizens Helping in Parking Solutions: Citizens are trained to write parking citations for handicapped parking violations in areas such as local malls or shopping centers.
COPS- Citizens Offering Police Support: This program provides an opportunity for citizens to work hand-in-hand with officers at the Police Department substation conducting various office and clerical related tasks.
VRT – Volunteer Response Teams: Volunteers are trained to relieve officers in the field from some of the less critical and time consuming duties that restrict police availability for response to emergency calls (311 follow-ups, perimeter control, etc.). Volunteers will be able to respond on short notice, as needed.
|NOTE: ALL OF OUR PROGRAMS ARE STRICTLY
For Information on Volunteer Programs call
CERT– The Community Emergency Response Team program is intended to train neighborhood and community-based volunteer teams that will: inform, educate, and train their neighbors on disaster preparedness; assist public safety agencies and local community boards with public events; respond to locally occurring disasters by strictly following CERT protocols, and supporting emergency personnel upon their arrival and at their request; and assist agencies in managing spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. http://dallascityhall.com/oem/pdfs/CERT_brochure_english.pdf (link to brochure info).
DERT– Dallas Emergency Response Team is a unique public-private partnership created to improve communication between business organizations and public safety departments before a disaster happens. DERT brings together City officials, building owners and managers, security professionals, and other emergency planners from the private and non-profit sectors to deal with the special challenges posed by disasters and emergencies (critical incidents).
LEAPS– Law Enforcement and Private Security utilizes the additional eyes and ears through the private security industry, the citizens of Dallas are afforded an opportunity to benefit from an additional 15,000 trained security personnel. Security personnel attend LEAPS workshops which provide them with additional information to help enhance their knowledge in the area of security and crime prevention. http://www.leaps.us/
The Dallas Police Reserve Battalion– If you have always wanted to be a police officer but already have an established career and cannot start over in a new field, an appointment with the Dallas Police Reserve Battalion may be your answer. As a new applicant you will be expected to attend classes on the weekends and evenings in order to become full TCLEOSE certified Peace Officers. You will then attend an abbreviated Dallas Police Academy to learn our procedures. After training you will be joining an elite group committed to making a difference. The hiring and background standards are the same as full time officers. If you think that you may have what it takes, please call 214-671-4420. You may also visit the Dallas Police Department’s Reserve website at dpdreserves.org.
One Final Volunteer Program
Victim Relief Volunteer – This 3-hour orientation is required to become a volunteer. After the completion of the training, you will receive a t-shirt and a volunteer badge. At this level, you are not allowed to serve victims, but augment the services of Victim Chaplains, Counselors, and Crisis Responders. Volunteers at the 3-hour level serve in the office, warehouse, mass distribution at disasters and crime scenes.
Train to Become a Victim Chaplain, Counselor, or Crisis Responder – This 16-training Basic Training is the entry level training to begin working directly with victims. After the completion of this training, you will have a further in-depth knowledge of victimology, victim advocacy, incident command, death scene protocol, crime scene protocol and more. This will give you the skills required to be deployed in any situation Victim Relief Ministries encounters. This training is offered through the Victim Chaplain and Counselor Association.
Advanced Training Opportunities – Once you receive the 16-hour Basic Training, you will begin working one-on-one with victims. Once you begin working one-on-one with victims, you will realize that you need more training! At this point, most volunteers begin to specialize in an area of ministry. Some, not all, of the areas of specialization are below along with recommended training. For more information, contact us today.
Critical Incident Stress Management and Psychological First Aid – Critical Incident Stress Manage-ment (CISM) is utilized to provide emotional support to responders (and some victims in certain situations). Victim Relief Ministries has an extensive volunteer base of CISM certified volunteers. Volunteers with this training are enabled to provide CISM debriefings. Psychological First Aid is utilized to provide emotional support to victims. Both trainings are essential to the advanced volunteer. Once you have completed them, be certain to notify Victim Relief Ministries.
Crime Response – In order to work alongside the police, most police departments require further training. Victim Relief Ministries partners with the local police department in ensuring that all volunteers are adequately equipped to provide support to victims. Contact us today to ask specific questions about your department.
Issues Surrounding Death – There is no doubt that Victim Relief Ministries specializes in responding to traumatic death. Most volunteers begin to see the nuances of a death scene early in their career with the ministry. Victim Chaplain and Counselor Association (VCCA) offers several Advanced Trainings in this area:
- Homicide Response and Recovery,
- Death Notification,
- Suicide Response and Prevention, and
- Death and Disasters
Incident Command and Logistical Support – Whether you want to be an Incident Commander or a fork-lift driver, you must know the Incident Command System. The good news is that you can specialize in multiple areas of support. The even better news is that you can begin training now by clicking here. Again, after you have completed the training, notify Victim Relief Ministries.
How Much Time Do I Have to Spend? As much or as little time as YOU want. Be sure to delegate responsibility to others to help.
How Can I “Sell” the Idea of a Neighborhood Crime Watch To My Neighbors?
Tell your neighbors that:
- Neighborhood Crime Watch is a return to the “old-fashioned” days when neighbors took care of neighbors and communicated with police.
- The program helps reduce the risk of becoming a crime victim.
- It helps a community become stronger and more unified.
- It generates a concern of neighbors for each other. For instance, during bad weather, whether hot or cold, neighbors can check in on other neighbors.
- Neighborhood Crime Watch lets neighbors know that someone will be there in case of a personal crisis such as a fire, flood, or crime.
- There is greater access to criminal activity information.
- Having a Neighborhood Crime Watch sign posted lets criminals know that the neighborhood is not an easy target. Convicted burglars have reported avoiding neighborhoods that have these signs.
- It gives neighbors an opportunity to have block parties, covered dish suppers, or a street dance.
- It’s an opportunity to beautify the neighborhood.
- Neighborhood Crime Watch provides a forum for programs and an opportunity to meet officials in the community.
- It is a network of different neighborhoods working together.
How does my Law Enforcement Representative Help with a Neighborhood Crime Watch?
All crime prevention programs provided by your local law enforcement representative are FREE! All crime prevention programs from the DPD are FREE! DPD can and will provide FREE home security surveys, Operation Identification and keep your Neighborhood Crime Watch group informed about the current concerns of law enforcement. The representative will also introduce new crime prevention programs you might use in your community.
How Does my Neighborhood Crime Watch Group Get Crime Watch Signs?
It is recommended that the Neighborhood Crime Watch group members help purchase signs with a small donation from each member of the group. This shows a commitment to Neighborhood Watch by each member of your group. Some local law enforcement agencies like a particular type of sign that may be available through a local business or law enforcement agency either free of charge or for a small amount of money.
However, many Neighborhood Crime Watch groups dissolve soon after signs are posted. Many law enforcement agencies believe that groups were formed just to get the signs installed as a visible crime prevention effort. You might wish to visit the following website for information about signs and crime watch supplies: National Neighborhood Watch Institute www.nnwi.org
The DPD and the City of Dallas have special rules as it relates to Neighborhood Crime Watch signage, particularly as it relates to installing signs. Be sure to talk with the officers working with you on setting up your group about signage. They will also be able to identify local businesses where you can obtains signs.
Are background checks conducted for participants in a Neighborhood Crime Watch program?
The Dallas Police Dept. does not routinely conduct background checks on Neighborhood Crime Watch members. However, any suspicious activity should be immediately reported to your local Dallas Police substation for investigation.
The First Meeting
Where Do I Have the Meeting?
Meetings can be held in a backyard, den, kitchen, porch, in your neighborhood park, neighborhood school or an apartment. Many apartment communities have community rooms or other meeting rooms that can be utilized. If you think your group is too large to meet in a home, plan to have the meeting in a meeting room at the Dallas Police Department, Dallas Public Library, or your local faith-based organization.
How Do I Plan Our First Meeting?
(Check off as you complete the following):
________ 1. Contact your local law enforcement representative to determine a date that he/she could attend a meeting.
________ 2. Hand out a flyer to all the members of the neighborhood. You can also attach a letter explaining the crime watch program in more depth. Feel free to use the sample at the end of this chapter.
________ 3. Publicize the meeting through local newspapers and neighborhood newsletters. Post notices and flyers. Remember word-of-mouth is a great way to advertise.
________ 4. Prepare an agenda with a list of the items that need to be discussed.
________ 5. Determine in advance time limits for each agenda item.
________ 6. Plan on appointing a timekeeper for the meeting. A timekeeper can politely keep your meeting from running too long.
________ 7. Count the number of families (people) in your neighborhood.
________ 8. Invite someone from an adjacent or nearby Crime Watch to attend and provide success stories.
A Sample First Meeting Agenda
- Welcome & Introductions, Thank everyone for coming.
- Explain your reason for calling the meeting and discuss your reasons/concerns you and your neighbors have about crime in your area. (See examples below).
- Determine if there is enough interest in your area to start a Neighborhood Crime Watch. Many believe that there should be at least 50% of residents in neighborhood participating in all meetings and activities to maintain a Neighborhood Crime Watch. This isn’t necessarily correct, but certainly should be your goal.
- Pass around a contact sheet on which everyone will write down their names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. This information will be put on a block map and distributed to everyone later.
- Determine date for next meeting, who will bring light refreshments, and whether children may attend. If your meeting is in a church, school, recreation center, etc., pre-arrange to use the facility roughly a month in the future, so the next meeting date can be announced at the initial meeting.
- Introduction of law enforcement representative. Topic will be the basics of a Neighborhood Crime Watch.
- Make a list of what topics the participants are interested in hearing about for future meetings.
Reasons for Crime Watch
Discuss the concerns you have about your area such as the following (check all that apply):
- _____need for neighborhood association and sense of community,
- _____code violations,,
- _____broken glass,
- _____child safety,
- _____peeping toms,
- _____auto/property vandalism,
- _____garden/garden supply theft,
- _____vacant buildings,
- _____accumulation of hazardous junk in yards and alleys,
- _____youth gangs,
- _____other violent crimes,
- _____drug trafficking, dealers, suspected drug houses,
- _____other ____________________________________
After you discuss the concerns, determine if you and your neighbors really feel there is a need for a Neighborhood Crime Watch. Hopefully, your law enforcement representative will help you “sell” the idea of a Neighborhood Crime Watch by using some or all of the reasons above.
Some tips for a successful meeting
- Good lighting.
- Comfortable room temperature.
- Seating arrangement – a semi-circle usually works best since it enhances eye contact, and encourages better interaction among members of the group.
- Inexpensive refreshments – KEEP THESE SIMPLE!
- Be sure to have a specific purpose and an agenda for each meeting. Some flexibility is necessary but do not ramble since it is confusing and boring to those attending the meeting. It is helpful to assign time limits for each agenda item as well as a time keeper.
- Hold the meeting to the announced time frame.
- Avoid “war stories”, personal anecdotes, or “soap box” techniques since they can be misleading and disruptive to the meeting. . Your law enforcement representative’s time, your time, and the time of those attending the meeting needs to be carefully monitored.
- Briefly review key points discussed at the last meeting.
- Prepare materials in advance such as displays or crime prevention devices. Be sure displays are clearly visible and labeled for those present.
- No meeting should last longer than 60 minutes.
- If the speaker has no timepiece in direct view, be sure to indicate by a hand signal that time is almost up. Allow the speaker a chance to conclude remarks.
- Do not delay your meeting for the sake of “important” persons who have not arrived. Delaying a meeting can cause serious inconveniences for those already present who may have other commitments.
- Do not interrupt the meeting while those who are tardy make excuses for being late. Continue with your remarks.
- Share the bulk of the information. You do not need to lecture.
- Refer to prepared notes and index cards with clear, legible print. You do not need to memorize the material.
- If you plan to read directly from printed material, MARK the items with paper clips or markers so it can be found quickly. Fumbling is boring and time consuming and can lose attention.
- Say it just as you see it or as if you were talking to your own best friend.
- To avoid monotony, change pace by asking questions such as “Mr. X, have you ever considered what you’d do with this kind of problem?” Limit this though to avoid losing continuity.
- To keep interest, plan an activity such as filling out forms, pose a “problem” situation for discussion, or show slides.
- Arrange your agenda in units so that the meeting can end at any point. There is no way to determine exactly how much time it will take to cover certain material. Even if the meeting doesn’t take the full amount of time, do not introduce a new topic that must be cut off before it is discussed in full.
- Do not cram too much into one meeting. Everything will keep until next time!
Sample letter of invitation
Use a letter of invitation in conjunction with flyer to promote the first meeting.
Dear Fellow Resident,
Neighborhood Crime Watch is a very effective program to prevent many crimes such as burglaries, assaults and drug dealing. Neighborhood Crime Watch promotes awareness that will help ensure the safety of you, your loved ones, and your neighbors
I want to see if there is interest in starting a Neighborhood Crime Watch group for our block (neighborhood?). I hope that you will join me at my house on [date] at [time] at [address]. Together, we can help keep crime off our block (out of our neighborhood?) for good.
Neighborhood Crime Watch in Action
We’ve got a group going. What do we do now?
The best thing about Neighborhood Crime Watch is that it is so easy. Looking out for your neighbors takes very little time, and it benefits everyone.
What to do:
- Exchange basic information with trusted neighbors: home and work telephone numbers, daily routine of your family, planned vacations or visitors, scheduled deliveries and repairs, and your alarm system.
- Report any unusual or suspicious activities to the Dallas Police by calling 911. Don’t hesitate to call; there is a direct connection between an increase in calls for service and a reduction in crime!
- Make note of the descriptions of suspicious persons and vehicles. Write down license plate numbers and directions of travel. Take note of the color of the vehicle, what the suspicious persons were wearing, time of day, etc. Give as much specific information as possible.
- Keep neighbors informed of houses that will be unoccupied for extended periods of time.
- Look after neighbors’ houses when they are away. Volunteer to collect their mail, newspapers and other deliveries. A stack of several newspapers is a good indication to a burglar that no one is home!
- Consider a voice mail system
- Consider purchasing neighborhood alert signs. Neighborhood Crime Watch Signs alert criminals to the fact that they are entering a Crime Watch neighborhood.
- Consider establishing a regularly scheduled newsletter.
- Consider establishing a regularly scheduled email newsletter.
- LET THE POLICE APPREHEND CRIMINALS. NEVER PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER.
What Are Suspicious Activities?
If you detect any suspicious activity in your neighborhood or anywhere, call the Dallas Police Dept. Do not worry about being embarrassed if your suspicions prove to be unfounded. It is better to think of what could happen if you didn’t act.
Examples of Suspicious Activity
- Door-to-door canvassers in a residential area. This is especially suspicious if, after a few houses have been visited, one or more of the subjects go into the back or side yard. If one remains in the front yard while this occurs, the situation is even more suspicious. They could be “casing the house” for a burglary. There may be a burglary in progress, or it could be a soliciting violation or trespass in progress.
- People waiting in front of a house where the occupants are absent, or loitering in front of a business establishment which is closed. There may be a burglary or vehicle theft in progress.
- Someone forcing entrance to or tampering with a residence, business, vehicle, etc. This person is suspicious under almost any circumstance. There may be a burglary in progress.
- Non-resident going into back or side yard of house – possible burglary may be in progress.
- Person running – especially if he or she is carrying something of value. The person may be fleeing the scene of a crime.
- Person carrying property – may be suspicious depending on the circumstances. For example, if the person is observed at an unusual hour or in an unusual place and if the property is not wrapped as if just purchased, the situation may indicate a crime in progress.
- Exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms. The person may be injured, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or in some kind of need of medical aid.
Suspicious Situations Involving Property
- Property in homes, private garages, storage areas, etc. This is suspicious when there are large or unusual accumulations of property (such as several TV sets in a garage which are new and not being used). The property may be stolen.
- Property in a vehicle – not suspicious if the property is normally found in vehicles. This property may be stolen if you observe it at unusual hours, particularly TV sets, stereos, unmounted tape decks or auto parts.
- Property carried by persons on foot – normally not suspicious unless at an unusual hour or in an unusual place. This situation is especially questionable if the person is running and/or the property is not wrapped as if just purchased.
- Property being removed from or being placed in vehicles or buildings. This situation is suspicious if odd hours or places are involved, for example, from closed businesses or residences whose owners are known to be absent.
Other Unusual Situations
- Continuous “repair” operations at a non-business location. It is possible that stolen property is being stripped, refinished or altered in some other way.
- Broken windows or doors at closed businesses or residences where the owners are absent.
- Unusual noises – gunshots, screaming, sounds of combat, abnormally barking dogs – anything, which suggests foul play or illegal activity.
- Certain moving vehicles – slow-moving vehicles without lights which seem to be following no deliberate path. This is suspicious in any location, but especially in school areas, parks and playgrounds. The occupants of the car may be “casing” for sex offenses, drug pushing or for places to rob.
- Certain parked, occupied vehicles – may contain one or more persons. This situation is especially significant if observed at an unusual hour in a commercial area. The car may indicate a lookout for a burglary in progress.
- Vehicles being loaded with valuables – suspicious if parked in front of a closed business or vacant residence – even if the vehicle is a legitimate-looking commercial vehicle.
- Abandoned vehicle – possibly stolen.
- Vehicle containing weapons – suspicious under most circumstances – may be used for criminal activity.
- Other unusual activities involving vehicles:
- persons attempting forcibly to enter a vehicle
- persons “stripping” a car, especially at night or in parking lots
- apparent business transactions in a vehicle, especially if around schools or parks, involving juveniles; possible drug sales
- person being forced into vehicles – especially if females or juveniles
How Do I Report Suspicious Activity or a Crime?
- Call the Dallas Police. Dial 911 for emergencies, or dial of the DPD numbers provided at the end of this Tool Kit for non-emergencies.
- Identify yourself by your name and address and relay the information. Example: I am Jane Smith of 16 Rose Street, a member of Neighborhood Crime Watch. There is a suspicious person prowling around my neighbor’s house at 14 Rose Street.
- Give the exact location of the crime or activity.
- Use active, present tense verbs. There is a burglary in progress or there is suspicious activity in progress and there is someone there now…
- Remain in contact with the dispatcher until all of the necessary information has been obtained.
- Do not personally confront the situation. Await the arrival of a Dallas Police officer.
In an emergency, when reporting an incident to the Dallas Police Dept., you may be asked to repeat the address. This is to ensure that the address is correct and understood. While the dispatcher is asking you questions, which may seem indirectly related to the actual incidence of the crime, such as your name and address, a patrol car has already been dispatched to the scene of the emergency. The additional information may be required in order to determine the need for more emergency equipment. All information is kept confidential.
Care Enough to Call
If any of the above situations deemed suspicious are observed, the citizen is advised to call the Dallas Police Department and report:
- What has happened
- Where it happened
- When it happened
- If anyone was injured
- License number of suspicious vehicle
- Description of suspicious vehicle
- Description of suspicious persons
- In what direction the suspicious vehicle/suspicious person went
What response to expect in regard to your call:
If the crime is in progress, e.g., the burglar is still in your home or your neighbor’s home, your call will be answered immediately. When making your call, BE SURE TO USE THE WORDS “IN PROGRESS!”
If the crime has already been committed, e.g., you have come home and found your home has been burglarized, a slower response should be expected. The first priority in answering calls is for crimes in progress. Once these calls have been answered, the officer will go to the requested location.
What Else Do Neighborhood Crime Watch Organizations Do?
Operation Identification Program
The Operation Identification Program deters burglars, assists in arrest and prosecution of criminals, and facilitates the return of stolen property.
An engraver is usually from the DPD. Call to arrange for the loan of the engraver. It generally can be loaned to you for a three-day period with valid driver’s license. Block captains can borrow the engraver and let the whole neighborhood take turns engraving their property.
- Mark valuables by inscribing your driver’s license number followed by the letters TX. Example: A-123-456-789-321 TX. Make sure to put TX on the end, should your belongings be carried out-of-state. Do NOT use your social security number. Burglars can use your social security number to access personal information about you.
- Complete two copies of a property list. Provide a description of the item, its make, model, size, color, serial number, purchase date and amount.
- Photograph, in color, all valuables that cannot be marked (china, silver, furs, jewelry, etc.) and file with the property list.
- List and file credit card companies, phone numbers and account numbers with the property list.
- Keep one copy of the property list at home, and another in a safe deposit box or other secure location.
- Display Operation Identification stickers in visible places, like a front window or door, and the garage door. (These are available free from the Dallas Police Dept.)
Home Security Survey Program
Crime prevention begins at home through improved home security. The Dallas Police Department will conduct a FREE home security survey on request. The survey will identify problem areas and will provide guidance for their correction.
Encourage your neighbors to:
- Improve the security of their residences.
- Identify any potential points of vulnerability.
- Correct those security weaknesses.
Remember: If a burglar can be denied entry into your home for five minutes, statistics show that he will leave for an easier target.
Participate in National Night Out
“A goodbye party for crime and drugs,” National Night Out is an annual event designed to build upon the partnership between the community and law enforcement. National Night Out occurs every August and continues to gain mass, momentum and feeling as it bonds diverse elements of our community. Besides being loads of fun, this event is educational and beneficial to every community that participates.
- Have everyone in the neighborhood display their outdoor lights
- Organize “front porch vigils”
- Block parties
- Cookouts or pot luck meals
- Request a visit (at least 30 days in advance) by local police, rescue squad, fire department, etc.
- Flashlight walks
- Contests and games
- Youth programs
- Softball games
- Live music
Keep Your Crime Watch Active
Keep Up the Good Work!
It may be difficult to keep up the initial enthusiasm of the Neighborhood Crime Watch group. As crime is lessened in your area, residents may become less interested in attending meetings, while still remaining concerned about crime.
Our local law enforcement crime prevention officers will continue to provide assistance to the leaders of your group by assigning a patrol deputy to attend your monthly meeting to provide you with updated information on Department activities, crime analysis, selected training lectures, etc. Crime prevention officers will monitor daily activities within your community, which may require additional training sessions, or increased enforcement activity by our Patrol Division.
Strong leadership is essential to maintain the active involvement of the community in the Neighborhood Crime Watch Program. The program chairpersons and block captains, interested in the security of his or her neighborhood, are an asset in motivating the group to realize its objectives. The block captains may get involved in training other block captains as well as a replacement should he or she move from the community.
As crime is lessened within the community, citizens may broaden their scope to maintain the functioning of the group. Residents may concern themselves with the total quality of living in their neighborhood, for example, home beautification, cleanliness of the neighborhood, parks and recreational development. Community pride may be a strong motivation in maintaining the program. At all times, however, crime prevention should remain a priority of the program. The continued value of citizen involvement in protecting their neighborhood is the primary concern.
Guidelines to Maintain an Active Crime Watch Program
- Schedule meetings every 90 days not to exceed 6 months between meetings.
- Be sure to give advance notice (about 30 days) of meetings.
- Review current crime trends in the area.
- Update participants on new crime prevention techniques.
- Provide social interaction.
- Update current list of members.
How to Promote Meetings
There are several steps a block captain can take to promote meetings, and you DO NOT have to do it alone! Delegate tasks to others in your neighborhood. If everyone contributes just a few minutes of his or her time, promotion is easy!
- Post flyers about a month ahead of the meeting. You can copy and fill in the flyer on the next page, or you can get creative and make one of your own.
- Walk door-to-door, NEVER ALONE, and politely invite each neighbor to the meeting. “Hi, I’m Jane and I live at the end of the street. We are having a Crime Watch meeting next Monday night and I’d like to invite you to come.” Remember to discuss why a Neighborhood Crime Watch is necessary in your area.
- Send an email to all your neighbors who have attended previously, suggest they bring a friend or neighbor.
- Call each person in the neighborhood a few days before the meeting to remind him or her. One person can call everyone in the neighborhood, or you can utilize a phone tree system.
- Recognizing that crime prevention is a serious issue, keep your meetings as positive as possible, so people feel good about coming.
Participate in Collaborative Organizations
There are other groups including the Crime Watch Executive Board (CWEB), Safer Communities for Residents and Apartment Managers (SCRAM). Contact the DPD to learn more about these activities.
Every function of your Crime Watch group does not have to be a formal meeting. In fact, some of the most successful groups are those whose members get to know one another on a friendly level. In addition, some functions can be used to raise money for your neighborhood. Some examples of social/fund raising functions that your group can sponsor are:
- Block parties/dances
- Neighborhood yard sales
- Movie nights
- Neighborhood clean-ups
- Adopt a neighborhood park or garden
Establish Yourselves as a Nonprofit Organization
To make the most of your status as an organization that benefits the community, it is helpful (but not required) to register your Neighborhood Crime Watch group as a nonprofit organization with the Internal Revenue service. Doing this will allow you to solicit donations from area businesses and give them a tax-deductible receipt. This gives your group the power to offer a strong incentive for donating to your cause. Contact the Internal Revenue Service and request Form 1023. Here is the link: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1023.pdf and the instructions for filling it out, http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1023.pdf
Set Up Bylaws
To avoid conflicts and to make sure your organization runs smoothly, you may want to draw up a set of bylaws. Your bylaws should fit the needs of your particular neighborhood or group. Your bylaws might cover:
- your organization’s goals and purpose.
- who can be a member.
- who gets to vote on organization matters.
- membership dues.
- officers/board members and their duties.
- officers/board members and membership meeting frequencies.
- how spending is approved.
- officer and board elections.
For a sample set of bylaws, contact Kerry Goodwin, (firstname.lastname@example.org).
DPD Northeast Patrol Division
Sgt. Keitric Jones
Mailing Address: 9915 E. Northwest Highway
Dallas, TX 75238
Some More Important Phone Numbers:
|Family Place||(214) 941-1991|
|Protective Order Information||(214) 653-3528|
|Salvation Army Family Violence Shelter||(214) 424-7208|
|Genesis Women’s Shelter||(214) 942-2998|
|New BeginningCenter||(972) 276-0057|
|Austin Street Shelter||(214) 428-4242|
|RapeCrisis Center||(214) 590-0430|
|SuicideCrisis Center||(214) 828-1000|
|Alcoholic Recovery||(214) 823-3200|
|Counseling and Crisis Line||(972) 233-2233|
|Teen Line||(972) 233-TEEN|
|Information & Referral Services||(214) 379-4357|
|Dispute Mediation Service||(214) 754-0022|
|Child and FamilyGuidanceCenters||(214) 351-3490|
|Dallas Police Department Family Violence Counselor||(214) 670-4335|
|City of Dallas Social Services||(214) 670-4225|
|Dallas Police Department Family Violence Squad||(214) 670-7075|
|City Attorney||(214) 670-4439|
|District Attorney||(214) 653-3528|
|Lawyers Against Domestic Violence||(214) 748-1234 ext.3012|
|Department of Protective and Regulatory Services||1-800-252-5400|
|Adult Protective Services||1-800-252-5400|
|National Domestic Violence Hotline||(800) 799-SAFE|
SOME IMPORTANT COMPUTER INTERNET LINKS:
Dallas County and Surrounding Local Areas www.dallasdvresources.org
Genesis Women’s Shelter www.genesisshelter.org
Family Place www.familyplace.org
Counseling and Crisis Line www.contactdallas.org
Teen Lines www.teencontact.org
National Neighborhood Watch Institute www.nnwi.org (crime watch signs and other supplies)
Dallas Police Department Phone Numbers:
Police Media Relations 214-671-4065
Neighborhood Patrol Officer (NPO) Coordination Unit 214-671-4020
Administrative Services Bureau
Personnel & Development 214-671-4410
Personnel Section 214-671-4410
Recruiting Background Team 214-671-4410
Applicant Processing Team 214-671-4410
Training Section 214-670-7448
Support Services Bureau
Prisoner Information 214-761-9025
Auto Pound 214-670-5116
Property Unit 214-670-8333
Report Information 214-671-3345
Open Records 214-671-3344
Special Services Bureau
Internal Affairs Division 214-671-3986
Neighborhood Nuisance 214-671-3471
Reserve Battalion 214-670-4419
Traffic Unit 214-670-6955
Vehicle Crimes Squad 214-670-5817
Criminal Intelligence Unit 214-671-3300
Public Integrity Unit 214-671-3265
Crimes Against Persons Division 214-671-3584
Crime Victim’s Compensation 214-671-3587
Homicide Unit 214-671-3661
Robbery Unit 214-671-3584
Assault Unit 214-671-3584
Sexual Assaults 214-671-3584
Sex Offender Registration 214-671-3689
General Investigations 214-671-3503
Financial Crime Squad 214-671-3505
Forgery Squad 214-671-3543
Swindle Squad 214-671-3513
Auto Theft Unit 214-671-3535
Youth and Family Support 214-671-4220
Missing Persons Squad 214-671-4243
First Offender Program 214-671-4271
Gang Unit 214-671-GANG
Child Exploitation 214-671-4211
Internet Crimes Against Children 214-671-4214
Child Abuse Squad 214-670-4915
Children’s Advocacy Ctr. 214-818-2600
Family Violence Squad 214-671-4304
Youth Programs Unit 214-671-4285
Central Operations Div. 214-670-4413
Investigative Unit 214-670-4414
Central Business District 214-670-5840
East Dallas 214-670-5514
Hall St. 214-670-5531
Little Mexico 214-670-7006
Town Park Apts. 214-670-0286
Northeast Operation Div. 214-670-4415
Investigative Unit 214-670-4416
Southeast Operations Div. 214-670-8345
Investigative Unit 214-670-8346
Rhodes Terrace 214-670-8572
Spring Avenue 214-670-8492
Lake June 214-670-8031
Bexar Street 214-670-0249
Southwest Operation Div. 214-670-7470
Investigative Unit 214-670-7471
Wynnewood Village 214-670-7631
N. Bishop 214-670-7519
Brackins Village 214-670-6739
Northwest Operations Div. 214-670-6178
Investigative Unit 214-670-6179
Love Field Unit 214-670-6162
Lake West 214-670-6317
Lake West Riding Club 214-670-6092
Maple Avenue 214-670-4515
North Central Operations Div.. 214-670-7253
Investigative Unit 214-670-7236
Dallas Crime Commission 214-965-9000
Police Review Board 214-670-3246
Social Services 214-670-4225
Victim’s Outreach 214-358-5173
NOTES: This publication has been compiled from many sources of information and can be tailored to your community. It is offered with no restrictions. Please feel free to cut, paste, edit, adapt to your own needs. It is also available in Spanish.
In 2010, it was recognized by the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Programs as a “Best Practice” and shared nationally through their InSites Publication. It has been adapted and is in use in over 25 major cities across the United States, and has been shared by the United States Department of State with a number of Central and South American countries. First published in 2005, it is regularly updated and provided by trainers through the National Crime Prevention Council.
 A list will be provided at the end of this document.