When I was young, many, many years ago, we had a neighborhood watch. It was called neighbors.
The kids in my neighborhood stuck together and everybody’s parents knew everyone else’s. Someone was always home in the neighborhood and watching what was going on and trouble and mischief seldom went unobserved or unreported, much to our own chagrin. These were the days before the Internet, cell phones and even computers.
Today things are different. Many families have two working parents leaving their homes empty during the day. While the Internet and social media have opened our access and knowledge all over the world, it has caused parents and their children to become more shut in and more isolated from their immediate surroundings.
We don’t hang out in our neighborhoods. We have play-dates. Instead of playing a game of home-run derby or tag football in an empty lot or field, we have organized sports and travel teams. The lives of my children are much different than what I experienced.
I know who my neighbors are but I’m ashamed to say I don’t know my neighbors.
Then the events of Sept. 11, 2001 changed our world forever. No longer could we feel secure in our own homes, neighborhoods or even our country. In many ways the world is presenting us all with a new, unpredictable and seemingly hostile environment, so in order to ensure our safety and the safety of our children we must be ever
One of the best ways to accomplish vigilance and create security is by linking up with our friends and neighbors and working together to create safe neighborhoods and communities. By monitoring and reporting unusual activities and individuals in a responsible manner we send a clear message to criminals and terrorists, we protect our country from the bottom up.
You have chosen wrong if you believe that we will be deterred or cowered by deviate or lawless behavior. If you choose to break the law and terrorize, then do it somewhere else. By watching out for each other’s children and property neighbors become active protectors of the homeland. Together, we can do it one block at a time.
What is it?
Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program that enlists the active participation of residents in cooperation with law enforcement to reduce crime in their communities. It involves neighbors getting to know each other and working together in a program of mutual assistance.
Residents are trained to recognize and report suspicious activities in their neighborhoods and the implementation of crime prevention techniques such as homeland security surveys. Its neighbors looking out for each other!
Why Neighborhood Watch?
Nationwide, millions of crimes are committed every year and the number is still growing. There can’t be a law enforcement officer on every corner so citizen involvement is essential to combat crime. By cooperating with each other and law enforcement, people can help fight crime in their community the most effective way – before it begins.
One Livingston neighbor who feels there is a need for a neighborhood watch is Komal Panjabi.
Panjabi is a resident of the small 30-home community of Hillside Heights. She met with Officers Gary Mankowitz and Joy Klapal in the Community Policing Office to discuss how she can start a neighborhood watch in her community.
“My from her driveway right across the street, which made me nervous and there have been other incidents as well. We need to be more vigilant. We all have little kids on this block and sometimes I fear for their safety,” Panjabi said.
When asked how she heard about the Neighborhood Watch she said, “Our family went to the National Night Out event at the Oval and I picked up a flyer at the Community Police booth. When I saw the Neighbor Hood Watch flyer, I said, I’m in.”
She went back to her neighbors and started talking to them about forming a watch group and the response so far was positive. Panjabi told Officer Mankowitz that she believes they need to have better communication between her neighbors, to talk about things going on, even if it just for social reasons and to keep in touch.
Officer Mankowitz informed Panjabi that some of the benefits of forming Neighborhood Watch groups were that it will give her and her neighbors access to experts in areas crime prevention, cyber-bullying, traffic safety as well as officers from the Livingston Police Department coming out to their homes and conducting Home Security Surveys and specialized training on how to be a good witness.
“It’s all about being observant,” added Officer Joy Klapal who also works in the Community Policing Unit. “We would rather you call and we’ll come and check things out and it be nothing than you never call at all and it turn out to be something we should know about. Please call.”
When she was told by Officer Mankowitz that she was going to be named “Block Captain” for the Hillside Heights group, Komal Panjabi had just one question, “Can I get a hat?” The answer is yes, AND a whistle!
Helping the Livingston Police in reaching the community and helping to form local Neighborhood Watches will be Heather Shulman. She will be acting as the Program Coordinator, assisting the police as the liaison between the Block Watch Captains and the police.
How to get started:
If you want to get involved, you can start a Neighborhood Watch. It’s a simple process that can make a big difference in your community. Here’s how to get started:
- Form a small planning committee. Decide on a date and place for an initial neighborhood meeting.
- Contact the Livingston Police Community Policing Unit and request that an officer come to your meeting to discuss your neighborhood’s problems and needs.
- Stay in touch. Open the lines of communication between you and your neighbors and keep the police informed of any illegal or suspicious activity in your neighborhood.
For more information on how to get involved, call the Livingston Community Policing Unit at (973) 992-3000 ext. 3600 and tell them that you are interested in joining or starting a Neighborhood Watch group.
Law enforcement officers can’t be everywhere at once, but you and your neighbors can. Use your eyes and ears and then the telephone. If you see something suspicious then call the police immediately at (973) 992-3000.