What Is Neighborhood Watch
Neighborhood Watch is a group of neighbors looking out for neighbors. It is getting to know each other and becoming familiar with your neighbor's habits and vehicles so that you will know when something is suspicious or out of the ordinary. In addition to recognizing potential suspicious activities, Neighborhood Watch participants report such activity by calling Douglas County Emergency Communications, which dispatches police services for all of Douglas County, at 541-440-4471. After calling to report the situation, also notify your Watch Chairperson.
All of this doesn't make you a nosy neighbor - it makes you a good neighbor in the old-fashioned sense of the word. Many people don't want to bother the police because they are afraid that it may not be a real emergency or that they may be embarrassed if their suspicions turn out to be unfounded. The police would much rather be called out to investigate than to be called after a crime has been committed.
When to Call the Sheriff
When in doubt, always call either the non-emergency line at 541-440-4471 or if people are in immediate danger, 911. The Douglas County Emergency Dispatch center is staffed with trained operators who will evaluate your call, rank its priority, and dispatch it to the appropriate officer.
Neighborhood Watch does not mean being a vigilante. Participants do not confront suspects or take any personal risks at all.
Benefits of Having a Neighborhood Watch
- Improved home security
- Improved livability
- Information about available resources and services
- Knowing your neighbors and looking out for one another
- A partnership with the Sheriff's office
- A team concept of neighbors working together
Prevention material available via speaker presentations and/or brochures:
- Burglary / Theft Prevention
- Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
- Illegal Drugs / Drug Houses
- Operation ID
How to Organize a Neighborhood Watch
Thank you for taking those first important steps to organize your neighborhood to help fight crime in your area. If the Sheriff's Office can be of any further assistance, please call us at 541-440-4450.
- Download the Neighborhood Watch Packet (PDF).
- Determine the area you want to organize. This should be the area you consider your "neighborhood." Groups can range in any size that you feel comfortable organizing.
- Find neighbors to assist you. These people will form your initial group of Neighborhood Watch Volunteers. A good number would be one person per 8 to 10 households. Determine the best night of the week for a presentation. Most Neighborhood Watch presentations are held during the evening hours.
- Contact the Sheriff's Office to schedule speakers if you live within the Sheriff's Office's Jurisdiction.
- You can email us to schedule a speaker at least two weeks in advance. If you live outside of the Sheriff's Office jurisdiction, you will be referred to your local police agency.
- Arrange a meeting location close to your neighborhood. It should have enough room to hold your invited neighbors and, if needed, for the use of audio visual aids such as an overhead projector.
- Invite your neighbors.
- Distribute the invitations at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting. The most effective way to do this is to ask the Neighborhood Watch volunteers to hand-carry them to neighbors and ask if they will attend. Get names and phone numbers if possible to make reminder calls later.
- Distribute a meeting "reminder" notice 3 days before the meeting or make personal phone calls.
- Prepare a neighborhood map
- Prepare a Neighborhood Watch area map or plat plan showing names, phone numbers and street number of each household. Plat maps can be accessed from the Douglas County Planning Department on their website.
At the presentation you will:
- Identify concerns and develop an action plan.
- Learn crime prevention techniques such as home security, personal safety and Operation Identification.
- Learn how to report suspicious activity.
- Meet your neighbors and establish a communication network (telephone or email tree).
- Recruit your Coordinator and Block Captains.
- You will learn how to order Neighborhood Watch signs.
- Once your neighborhood has been organized, maintaining interest in Neighborhood Watch is important. It's too easy for us to forget to keep that vigilance we thought was so important in the beginning. Some groups maintain interest by planning neighborhood outings, meetings, summer picnics and passing out a Neighborhood Watch Newsletter every month.