Since the revitalization of neighborhood watches in Peoria in 2006, there are over 60 such groups in the city, and they all started with a phone call to Steve Fairbanks.
With names like Smith Street Guardians, Bigelow Bandits and No Bluffing, Peoria’s neighborhood watch groups are tight bands of neighbors having fun and looking out for each other. In a survey conducted in January of 2009 by Steve Fairbanks, head of the Community Development Division at the City of Peoria, 94 percent of respondents said that establishing a watch group has resulted in positive changes in their neighborhood.
Neighborhood Watch Checklist
- A planning committee to initiate program
- A list of community issues to be addressed
- Resident communications (email, phone, etc.)
- Publicity for initial and weekly NW meetings
- A meeting agenda
- A place to meet
- A Crime Prevention officer to assist in training
- Map of the community with names and addresses of residents
- Informational flyers, posters, etc.
- A sign-up sheet for block captains
- Facts about crime in your neighborhood (police reports)
- Work with other citizens associations in the area
- Law enforcement endorsement
Source: National Crime Prevention Council
Fairbanks encourages people to start watches even if crime isn’t an issue in their neck of the woods. “They are for people looking for a tool to do something for their neighborhood.” Neighborhood watches are entirely resident-driven, and there are no requirements or minimums to start one. “If two people are in, I say, ‘Lets go and get that watch started,’” adds Fairbanks.
What a Watch Is…and Isn’t
A neighborhood watch is a crime prevention program that teaches residents techniques to avoid becoming victims of crime, recognize suspicious behavior, and make their homes and property secure. The watch area is no more than what can be observed from the front or backyard of your home.
Neighborhood watches are in place to build a supportive, cohesive community, not to act as a vigilante force or risk the safety of residents to prevent a crime from happening. In addition, if a watch is in place in your neighborhood, crimes can still be committed there—there’s no guarantee that crime won’t happen.
Once a group is organized, they inform local law enforcement of their existence and set up training, where they learn how to identify
suspicious behavior and report incidents. The group also receives Blue
Eye Neighborhood Watch signs and educational brochures. With the help of Fairbanks, new groups host a kick-off to get to know neighbors and encourage others to get involved. iBi