Law enforcement with an emphasis on crime prevention is the main objective of any police department. It is widely recognized that without the assistance of the people themselves, combating crime cannot succeed. The partnership of the police with the society strengthens the citizens’ trust in law, increases their satisfaction with the work of the police, and encourages them to render all the possible help. The participation in the Neighborhood Watch program requires the desire to contribute to the creation of safer living conditions, reducing fear, and preventing violence.
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Either success or failure of the Neighborhood Watch program depends on those involved in its implementation, the level of professionalism and innovation in the work of the police departments as well as the desire of the community members to contribute to the common goal. Today, the key problem is to awaken the public consciousness, namely, neighborhood supervision and control that would promote timely provision of information to the police (Siegel, 2015).
The public should assist the police in collecting data on drunkenness and drug addiction densities, potential explosives, other prohibited items, car thieves, extremists and citizens involving minors in antisocial activities, etc.
Considering that the formal side of the participation in the program of the Neighboring Watch is minimal and the main goal is to promote the desire to create safer conditions of life, it is necessary to develop and implement a range of strategies. Kang (2015) claims that many people prefer not to participate in the mentioned program due to both individual and neighbor-related factors, among which there are stability and attachment of residents and the contextual effect. In particular, people with the higher stability tend to participate in the program as well as those living in the criminal areas.
It is important then to identify any other factors related to the extent of participation in the program and address the existing challenges. Kappeler and Gaines (2012) specify the problem of public mistrust to the police that is caused by the lack of openness regarding the initiatives of the latter. The authors stress that there is a need to demonstrate community members the integrity of the police and society.
To ensure that the activities of the Neighborhood Watch program are not carried out by trial and error, it should be based on the principle of the scholarly character. At present, criminological science has accumulated a huge amount of knowledge in this field and developed scientific recommendations and techniques for the prevention of certain types of crime. The principle of the scholarly approach will make it possible to take into account the prevailing tendencies in the development of crime, the change in its state, structure, and dynamics. If the community members are aware of this information, it is more likely that their watch will be effective.
The key activity of the so-called neighbors is to bring any information of a criminal nature to the attention of the police. Sometimes this activity involves the creation of civilian guards for patrolling the territory. In this connection, the members of communities can independently determine who will coordinate their actions; who will contact the police; who will receive general information on the state of local crime and present it to the people, etc. (Kappeler & Gaines, 2012).
The provision of methodological and practical assistance from the police to the representatives of the public, expressed in the transfer of printed materials containing information on the prevention of violations of legal norms and socially dangerous events, may be used to increase the level of knowledge about methods of prevention of offenses. Cooperation of state and public entities within the framework of the Neighborhood Watch program will contribute to reducing the number of offenses, securing order and tranquility in the streets, which would bring the representatives of the state and society together to carry out joint activities.
In order to increase the confidence of society in the police, Gill, Weisburd, Telep, Vitter, and Bennett (2014) assume that it is beneficial to create the basis for interaction and cooperation between the mentioned parties. The authors note that while performing the assigned tasks, the police representatives may interact with public and citizens’ organizations and use the opportunities of partnership in ensuring the protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms as well as supporting the development of public initiatives, as suggested by Worrall (2014).
Among the fundamental principles of the activity of the police, there are its openness and publicity allowing increasing the involvement of the population in strengthening public security and public order (Brogden & Nijhar, 2013). In the most general form, the openness of the activity of the police as a means of state power may be manifested in the ability of all interested persons to get acquainted with the content of decisions and documents adopted in this sphere to know about the content of the police work. Community involvement will also provide respect for human rights and legitimate interests, which is expressed in the ability to conduct a dialogue with the society, the media, and interact with them based on mutual respect and social partnership.
Brogden, M., & Nijhar, P. (2013). Community policing. New York, NY: Routledge.
Gill, C., Weisburd, D., Telep, C. W., Vitter, Z., & Bennett, T. (2014). Community-oriented policing to reduce crime, disorder and fear and increase satisfaction and legitimacy among citizens: A systematic review. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 10(4), 399-428.
Kang, J. H. (2015). Participation in the community social control, the neighborhood watch groups: Individual-and neighborhood-related factors. Crime & Delinquency, 61(2), 188-212.
Kappeler, V. E., & Gaines, L. K. (2012). Community policing: A contemporary perspective (6th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
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Siegel, L. (2015). Criminology: Theories, patterns, and typologies (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Worrall, J. L. (2014). Crime control in America: What works? (3th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.