The neighborhood ‘watch’ plan you should be devising right now

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 by

( Most of us have seen the orange-and-black “Neighborhood Watch” signs around our communities, and we understand the premise behind them. But we also know they are largely symbolic and that most folks in our neighborhoods don’t actively keep an eye out for suspicious activities.

But with all of the violence in our cities – the terrorism, the targeting of our police officers, the political unrest – now is a great time to revive the concept of neighborhood watch, even if you are the only one doing it.

The thing to remember is that doing this now is important because in an emergency, things will happen very quickly. The situation will be very fluid. Riots and unrest have a tendency to pick up steam as they go along, involving more and more people. And before you know it the crowds will be upon you. So advance planning is crucial.

First things first. You should contact your local police department, tell them what you have in mind – boosting neighborhood security – and solicit suggestions and instructions. You’ll want to know if local police already have emergency plans in place (most do) for the kinds of situations you are anticipating, and what you will need to do in order to help them enact those plans.

Next, get together with any neighbors you know well and talk to them about neighborhood watch. Tell them your concerns and see what concerns they have regarding potential dangers and threats. You might just find out that they’ve been thinking some of the same things and have already begun planning on their own. Coordinated action in times of trouble can be lifesaving (strength in numbers and all of that).

You’ll next want to get a lay of the land, so to speak. Have you ever really taken the time to explore your neighborhood and those surrounding you? Now is the time to do that. What are your escape routes? Where will you go if you have to leave your home? From what direction would danger come?

Next, do a threat assessment. What sort of threats are already within your neighborhood? Are you close to a “bad” part of town? Who can you rely on to watch your back? Keep in mind that there may be a fair number of people in your neighborhood who are armed, depending on where you live (more people in Texas neighborhoods will be armed than people in Connecticut neighborhoods, for instance). That in and of itself can become a threat.

Make sure you’ve always got a “bugout” bag or kit ready to just pick up and go. Make sure you carry it in your car because you never know when and were trouble will strike.

And honestly, if you’ve never had a firearm now may be the time for you to purchase one and then learn how to properly use it (along with the laws in your city/state governing the use of firearms for self-defense). No sane person wants to intentionally harm another human being that isn’t a threat to them, but in perilous times you must be prepared to defend yourself and your family.

Finally, make it a habit to just sort of “patrol” your neighborhood a couple times a week. Ask your neighbors to do the same thing. Get in your car and take 10 minutes to make a couple rounds, just to keep an eye on things. Or keep a watchful eye when you’re out walking or jogging for exercise. Do this at various times of the day. We’re not talking becoming George Zimmerman here – just an extra pair of eyes on the neighborhood to help police and to keep neighbors safe.

Being vigilant in trying times is important. You don’t want to get caught off-guard without a plan and without friends and neighbors to help you out (and for you to help them out). There is no shame in retreating in the face of imminent danger or death, but you’ll want to know in advance where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. And don’t let anyone talk you into being vulnerable and unable to defend/protect yourself.

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