Chapter 4
Conducting Neighborhood
Watch Meetings

Building Community Relationships

Traditionally, Neighborhood Watch was always about having meetings to discuss crime in the neighborhood, but as the Watch has changed, so have meetings. The key to planning a successful Watch meeting is organization. Watch leaders should be aware that participants are volunteering time out of busy schedules and should work to ensure efficient and informative meetings.

Inviting Neighbors

How you invite people to Neighborhood Watch is important. What would make someone get off the couch after a long day at work to come to a meeting with a group of strangers? People commonly assume Neighborhood Watch means “committees, meetings, or having to pay money.”

Meeting Logistics & Spaces

Try to establish a regularly-scheduled meeting day and time. You might meet once a week or once a month, at an interval that best fits the needs and availability of the group.

Neighborhood schools and faith-based organizations often provide meeting space for groups such as Neighborhood Watch. Remember to use the partnerships you have developed in the community. Invite people from your partner organizations or ask to use their facilities for meetings.

Tried and tested invitation tips

Make your invitation simple and clear. Mention a recent crime as an incentive to attend.

Deliver the invitation in person if possible. A face-to-face introduction is more effective.

Ask if they could spare “only one hour” to talk about how to fight neighborhood crime.

Don’t put invitations in postal mail boxes—it’s illegal.

Get a couple of neighbors to walk with you to help deliver invitations.

Offer other incentives: food, door prizes, or a chance to “win” money off rent or homeowners’ dues.

Use social media (Facebook, Twitter) to facilitate communication.

Facilitating a meeting

Share the Workload

Form a team to actively recruit new members or encourage previous members to attend. Lack of attendance can sometimes be a lack of information. If neighbors are informed about safety and security issues they may be more willing to attend.

At the Meeting:
  • Be warm and friendly, making a point to say hello to everyone.
  • Consider holding an informal social time before or after the meeting.
  • Providing name badges.
  • You might also want to consider an icebreaker exercise in the first couple meetings.
  • Begin and end on time, and stick to the schedule.
  • Set ground rules, such as time allowed for speaking and adhering to the agenda.
  • Take minutes.
The Meeting Facilitator Should:
  • Stay focused on the task at hand to ensure the meeting fulfills its purpose.
  • Clearly summarize decisions made and issues that require voting.
  • Direct disagreements so that they do not spiral out of control.
  • Allow each person time to speak.
  • Try to find and resolve sources of confusion, hidden agendas, and emotions.
  • Set the date, time, and place for the next meeting.
After the Meeting

After the meeting, review how the meeting went and how it could be improved. Effective meetings will not disappoint those in attendance because it will show that Neighborhood Watch values busy schedules, but encourages people to stay involved. The Watch coordinator or block captains should distribute minutes (or make them available) including details about action items and assignments, persons responsible, and timelines. Each block captain should follow-up with people who did not attend to see if they had questions about anything discussed. This will encourage people to stay involved, even if they can’t attend meetings.

Alternatives to Meetings

With overbooked schedules and new ways to communicate, it may be beneficial to occasionally hold non-traditional meetings. If you can accomplish the same purpose without meeting in person, consider more time-efficient alternatives such as email, phone, online chats, creating a Facebook page, utilizing Twitter to update neighbors, and/or electronic newsletter. In addition to Facebook, a new social media platform called Nextdoor helps to connect neighbors to one another and fosters responsibility for neighborhood safety. The platform also allows law enforcement agencies to target communication in geographical areas of specific communities. Respect each group member’s time. If the information provided in person at the meeting is important and valued, then a meeting is appropriate.

Creative Meeting Topics

  • Personal safety
  • Safety for the Hearing Impaired
  • Home Security
  • Awareness & Patrol Techniques
  • Observation
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Animal Control
  • Scams
  • Internet Crimes
  • Cultural Awareness/ Diversity Training
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Defensive Driving
  • Terrorism Awareness & Prevention Presentation
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Local Fire Station
  • Forest Ranger
  • Mediation Services
  • Helping in Schools
  • Sex Offenders
  • Gang Awareness
  • Drug/Narcotic Awareness