Thursday, March 22, 2012

Slate: Do Neighborhood Watch Programs Actually Work?

Slate has a short, but interesting piece on the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of Neighborhood Watch programs. I have the feeling I'll be Googling this topic this weekend.

One quote jumped out at me:

"The program can even have a negative impact on middle-class communities. Some studies suggest that neighborhood watch makes residents feel less safe, because it constantly reminds them of the possibility of crime."

Equally true of neighborhood email lists, no? Reading messages about local crime can be very useful, but it's probably not so helpful when it occurs in a vacuum. It seems like a timely topic for us locally considering that portions of 1-D seem to be experiencing an uptick in robberies.


Rayful Edmond said...

No need for a neighborhood watch. I just call the police every time I see a group of three or more people sitting on either my stoop or my neighbors'. Police often act like I'm in danger and advise me to stay in my house and lock the doors. I explain that I'm not scared, but just don't like people doing drugs and/or hosting a party on the street.

I understand when its warm out people like to be outside, but why not hang out on their back deck or at a rec center?

inked said...

Um, I'm assuming that:

1. you know these neighbors;
2. the neighbors you know aren't part of those groups of three.

Exactly how does the 911 call go down? I'm envisioning:

911: 911. What is your emergency?
Rayful: There are three people sitting on a porch down the street.
911: Ummm...

Seriously though, I feel like I'm missing some context here.

Anonymous said...

If the police are telling you to stay inside and lock the doors, it's their police yet indirect way of telling you to stop calling. And, that you don't really belong.

Seriously, we don't need neighbors like you.

Anonymous said...

DC police has a non-emergency anonymous tipline: 50411. You can use it to report anything annoying, worrysome, or suspicious. I have used it a number of times (neighbor's dogs barking in the middle of the night, fights on the street, drunks passed out in their vehicle in the middle of an intersection) and the police typically show up within 15 minutes to check the situation and have always resolved it. You don't have to give your name, address, #, anything. Just remember to tell them the location of the issue (and direction headed if the problem is a moving one). Use it to report suspicious activities (people walking down the street casing for unlocked cars, peering into yards, etc) or annoyances (drunks, gathering crowds). My experience is they show up every time and defuse it. The program started up under Fenty and much to my surprise has continued under Gray.

Rayful Edmond said...

Elise, You are missing context; I said stoop, not porch. Also, I'm not calling 911 on my neighbors. I don't know who they are, though often times its people pre-gaming before they walk over to Ibiza or Fur. I call 911 when there is illegal activity, such as drinking in public or smoking weed. If they don't want to be bothered, they shouldn't hang out in front of my house.

Keren said...

oh crap, so now you are telling me that every time my husband and I sit on our porch with our kids or another couple someone is going to call the cops on us.

I really hope that first poster is making a bad attempt at humor.

inked said...


Ok, that makes more sense. Glad we cleared that up. I was going to have to start worrying about you if you were calling on your neighbors.

Ken Jennings said...

I fully concur with Rayful. If you don't run your block, someone else will.

Arch_NME said...

I generally agree with this article, whenever I see signs that say "neighborhood watch" I know I'm in a shitty neighborhood. Another one is those bloody "drug free zone" signs. It's disturbing that the local pack of drug addicts is so completely out of control of the law that we've resorted to signs to politely ask them to refrain from shooting up on this particular corner. Anyone who thinks these signs are helping is a moron. They just scare decent people away and do nothing to actually deter crime.

On the other hand, actual neighbors actually watching is a very very good thing. Unlike the poster above I believe lots of people sitting on their front stoops is actually a good thing, those are neighbors watching. It might do the neighborhood some good if more you supposed good citizens made yourself a pitcher a lemonade and sat out of the front porch for a few hours.

Robby said...

Hey, frankly If I see the signs I figure it's the perfect neighborhood to move into and smoke salmon, both cole and hot smoke, because no one with bother me.

Anonymous said...

We always have a group of guys hanging out on the block. Are they using illegal substances? No. Are they occasionally drinking beer? Yes. I now after 3 years of living here know most of the guys by their first names. Do I hang out with them? No.

However, I do respect that they all used to live in the neighborhood and still emotional feel attached to the neighborhood. They look out for me, our house, our car. etc....Just please be more mindful of who you are calling the cops on...Not all "loiterers" are bad neighbors. And yes, this is coming from a white guy. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think that it is mostly real estate agents who don't like the reports of crimes on listservs and neighborhood watch signs.
As for the guys posted on the corner, I love when white privledged guys think that it's cool. He is never the one that picks up their trash, or gets harassed by them.

Anonymous said...

Them Them Them!!!! omfg...

Anonymous said...

I dread the onset of warm weather in my neighborhood. It means constant unbearably loud noise and heaps of trash on the sidewalks/street. Yes, I do call the police when I see groups of people hanging out in the street. No, they are not my neighbors, and in fact don't even live in the neighborhood. I'm quite sure any reasonable person would not want groups of rowdy intoxicated strangers throwing trash all over their front yards either. It is absolutely ridiculous that this is even an issue.

I feel the worst for the older retired residents who don't even get any respite during the work day (and by the way, the fact that being at the office is more relaxing that being at home? Pathetic.)

Anonymous said...

Rayful Edmond? Really?

...give me a break. There's absolutely no reason to use that name. Ever. You're a joke.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do want more neighbors that let the authorities know when there are problems. And I can't understand anyone defending random strangers coming along and sitting on someone's property.

Also, I could be wrong here, but I think when you post the signs about "no drug trafficking/use", it allows the penalties to be harsher for committing the crime than when they aren't posted.

Rayful Edmond said...

Anon 1:31,

Don't have a cow, man!

Hillman said...

When I see Neighborhood Watch signs I too think the neighborhood must have a crime problem.

Or if it's particularly posh area I think it's just something for bored people to do with their free time.

On a side fun note to Raymond's comments, a couple of friends that lived in San Francisco a while back told me it used to be legal for street people to basically live on your front stoop. The city was so pro-homeless-rights that they actually made it against the law for you to try to stop someone from living on your stoop, or below your stairs in an English basement situation.

Residents ended up literally having to step over passed out bums in their doorways, and they couldn't legally do anything about it.

Even the uber liberal residents of SF soon found this was horrible, and forced a change.

Not sure why I bring this up. Just found it interesting, and I"m a little surprised this hasn't been proposed in DC. After all, the city does own our front stoops, usually right up to the facade of the building itself (and often our cute little side buildouts and front porches are actually on city property).

Anonymous said...


no cow. you're just being ignorant to how disrespectful you are in using the name of a murderer.
if you are unable to be respectful, it doesn't matter what you say.

Rayful Edmond said...

Anon 9:11,
Chillax. You seem like the type of person that get upset by a framed Scarface poster.