We used to keep our porch lights on and open the door when the doorbell rang, even if we didn’t know who was there. We don’t do that in the world we live in now. But there are many ways to take back control and prevent crime in your community. It just takes communication, commitment and time.
In honor of National Night Out—an annual community-building campaign held the first Tuesday every August—here are 10 ways to make your neighborhood a safer, better place to live today.
- Work with your local public agencies and other organizations (neighborhood-based or community-wide) on solving common problems.
- Set up a Neighborhood Watch or a community patrol, working with police. Make sure your streets and homes are well lit.
- Report any crime or suspicious activity immediately to the police. There’s even a free app for that: McGruff Mobile, available on iTunes or on the Google Play store. The app is powered by AlertID, a national online and mobile service, and includes a virtual neighborhood watch where you can share photos and info about activity with neighbors, police, and even Homeland Security. (It also shows you an interactive map of crimes and sex offenders in your neighborhood, and you can receive alerts and information via email or mobile device.)
- If you own a dog, be a part of your local Dog Walker Watch crime awareness program (sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch), and serve as “extra eyes and ears” for local law enforcement agencies in ongoing crime prevention efforts.
- Volunteer to help clean up your community. Call your city offices or local waste management company and schedule a dumpster for the event. Then pick up litter together. Show you care about where you live and each other.
- Organize to help clean and improve parks in your area. Well-kept play equipment and a clean park can attract enough people to discourage illegal activities. Insist that your local government maintain the parks, immediately repairing vandalism or other damage.
- Adopt a school. Help students, faculty, and staff promote a sense of community through your involvement in a wide range of programs and activities. Work with the school to establish drug-free, gun-free zones if they don’t already exist.
- Mentor young people who need positive support from adults—through programs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
- Create a community anti-violence competition. Include speech, dance, painting, drawing, singing, musical instrument acting, and other creative arts. Get young people involved to plan it and suggest prizes. Make it a fun, local celebration. You can hold it in a local park, and even include an old-fashioned potluck.
- Support organizations that help make communities safer, like the National Crime Prevention Council.
– Candy Culver