Neighborhood Safety Takes More Than Fences| Ways to Lower Crime Rate
Safety is on all of our minds-
And as news events continue to happen, and we are shown over and over the amount of violance that exists out in the world, safety concerns rise sharply, and family units tend to turn inward, and focus on a tight unity between family. An unintentional consequence of this natural reaction to protect our nuclear family unit is that communities and neighborhoods tend to fragment, and eventually a once unified community can become a disjointed mess off isolated family units that are separate from one another.
That Brings Us to Meerkats
Yes- meerkats. Meerkats aren't magestic, nor are they beautiful... but they do have something that sets them apart from most other animals. Meerkats have an extremely complex social structure, one which in many ways seems to directly mimic our own. However, the most important aspect to the way that these amazing little mamals maintain their very structured societies, is how they deal with safety. In meerkat society, there is always at least one pair of eyes who's sole job it is (for that designated time) is to keep an eye out for potential danger while the rest of the community goes about daily life. And they take turns at regular intervals, often having more than one sentry on watch.
When a potential threat is spotted, an alarm call goes out, spreading almost instantly among the group. Without question, all of the family members scurry back to the safety of their den until the coast is clear, then they resume their daily activities. The basic concept is: the more eyes out there watching for the community as a whole, the more quickly they can disseminate information, and the more quickly they can deal with potential threats. This secruity system creates some serious bonds between individuals, and is a practice passed down from generation to generation.
Yes- each community member has the fortified walls of their dens that protect from outside threats, but it is the unity within their society, and the constant vigil that keeps these little guys safe.
Moral of the story?
We need to look out for each other, and work as communities to help keep each other safe instead of turning inwards and isolating from society. Yes, strong, tall fences, gated communities, and walls are a great deterant to many crimes, but statistically speaking; the most effective means of lowering crime rates in a specific area or neighborhood is to have feet on the ground, and as many eyes watching as possible.
Over a nine-month period, use of cellular phones by Neighborhood Watch groups in 11 areas in Florida caused a decrease in burglaries, robberies, and thefts.
Florida International University researchers found the following statistics within the combined 11 neighborhoods:
- - Burglaries decreased 33 percent, from 341 to 229;
- - Robberies decreased 24 percent, from 42 to 31;
-Thefts decreased 9 percent from 77 to 70.
Additionally, response times by emergencies was also reduced. The logic here is pretty simple as well. Criminalls will want to avoid detection, and commit their crimes in the easiest place they can. Criminals are less likely to try and commit crimes in areas that are known to have neighborhood watches or phone trees in place.
What Can You Do?
If you see something, say something.
There are really a ton of resources out there that are geared towards helping communities stick together and support each other, but inevitably, at the very base level, people must adopt the "If you see something, say something" policy in their daily lives. You can call anonymous tip lines, keep yourself anf your face out of the public view, and who knows- maybe save some lives. It is in our nature to pass off responsibility in emergency situations. We think "someone else will call"- be that someone else. Crimestoppers, your local police station, your local tip hotlines- all great ways to be a part of the solution with minimal involvement.
Develop a Phone Tree System
Here is a fantastic link to a printable checklist and sheet with detailed instructions on how to create a phone tree for emergencies. This can help information spread very quickly throughout a community, and helps everyone be aware of serious issues within a community, and fast. Rapid, Easy communication is key to safety.
Involve Law Enforcement
Law enforcement is here to help, and working with them, and incorporating law enforcement into a community will reduce the crime in that area. Ask for more frequent patrols of your neighborhood, get resources and information on crime in your area, keep up to date with current events and know your local police station. Ask about threats in the area, keep an open dialogue with your local police station.
Starting a neighborhood watch is one of the best ways to reduce crime in a neighborhood, and there are endless resources out there. For information on how to start a neighborhood watch, please visit the National Crime Prevention website for an in depth check list!
How to Start A Neighborhood Watch:
This is a very simplified list, more detailed info can be found at the link above.
- Determine the area you want to organize. This should be the area you consider your "neighborhood". Groups can range in size from 5 to 150 households.
- Find neighbors to assist you.. A good number would be one person per 8 to 10 households. Determine the best night of the week for a presentation.
- Set up A Neighborhood Watch Website and news letter
- Contact local Law Enforcement and establish open communication
- Have a Community meeting to establish and recruit members
- Create a community patrol map
- Get Your Free neighborhood watch signage
- Maintain Neighborhood Watch Patrols
A Last Word
The world is a chaotic place, and these days it seems like we all need to be more aware of safety and of community. It is through uniting ourselves as communities that we can always have a watchful eye over us, and as such, a tiny piece of mind. Yes, fences and barriers are an important aspect to safety, but in the end, statistics show that communities which work together are drastially safer than they would be just putting up a big barrier. We may be intelligent beings, but even we can learn a little something from the humble meerkat- and that is- a community that watches out for each other, lives longer, and lives stronger.
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