Back to Basics; Neighborhood Watch
neighborhood should have one, and ideally, every block a Block Captain
of the most grassroots and fundamental ways residents can assist
local law enforcement in improving public safety is by the establishment
of a neighborhood watch. And it's probably the most cost effective
crime prevention system there is.
This is especially important in Los Angeles, where the budget
is strained and so few sworn officers are charged with covering
such a vast area.
The Sheriff's Department has had to eliminate many of its community
policing programs because of the County Board of Supervisors'
at LAPD we're lucky.
With the Mayor's leadership, our City Council, Police Commission
and Department have all taken steps to ensure that the Senior Lead
Officer (SLO) program is back on it's feet. LAPD's Senior Lead Officers
are now deployed full time across the City, and each of the them
has office space, a dedicated cell phone and answering services.
The SLOs are charged with supervising a geographically small Basic
Car Area within a specific Division, often comprised of several
neighborhoods, and are the principal liaison with the "typical"
resident in a local community.
Over the last several years, some neighborhood watch groups lacking
this liaison disbanded, while others managed to hang in there. But
very few new groups were established.
Now that the SLOs have have the equipment, time and resources they
need, we should be re-dedicating ourselves to helping them firm
up existing groups, and bring new Neighborhood Watch and Block Captain
programs to the communities.
... Senior Lead Officer
Lead Officer program
is vital to community policing, because the SLO is often the main
liaison for problem solving between the Department and the resident.
There are 168 SLOs across the City. Each of the 18 LAPD Divisions
is subdivided into several Basic Car Areas, and your SLO supervises
your neighborhood's Basic Car, and the officers who are assigned
You'll want to find out from the LAPD Division that serves your
area the name of your Senior Lead Officer and keep his or her cell
phone number handy.
Then give him or her an introductory call.
NOTE: Each of LAPD's 18 community police stations has a Community
Relations Office. The officers there will be happy to
help you determine the phone number for your SLO.
Senior Lead Officers are the pivotal element in the LAPD's
effort to prevent and deter local crime. SLOs provide the vital
link for local problem solving, public safety, and quality of life
Among other things Senior Lead Officers are responsible for:
Monitoring crime trends in their Basic Car Areas - since each
Division has several of these, the SLO supervises a relatively
small geographic region
Working with the Community-Police Advisory Board (C-PAB) and
residents to develop goals to be accomplished through the efforts
of all officers assigned to the Basic Car
Acting as liaisons with the Division's detectives in order to
keep them informed of crime trends and special problems within
the Basic Car Area
interaction between the police and the local resident is essential
enhancing the quality of life and deter crime within the neighborhoods.
Senior Lead Officers take the lead in establishing
and maintaining local community policing partnerships.
Lead Officers regularly attend Neighborhood Watch meetings, and are
happy to coordinate setting up new ones.
They are eager to serve the community.
Neighborhood Watch Program
The concept of Neighborhood Watch is the cornerstone of the LAPD’s
crime prevention strategy. It enlists the active participation of
residents, in cooperation with law enforcement, to reduce crime in
communities throughout the city.
Any group can establish a Watch around any geographical unit: a block,
apartment, park, commercial area, public housing complex, office building,
etc. A few concerned residents, a community organization, or a law
enforcement officer can spearhead the effort to organize a Neighborhood
Any community resident can join - young or old, single or married,
renter or homeowner.
Members learn how to make their homes more secure, watch out for each
other and the neighborhood, and correctly report activities that raise
their suspicions to the Department. Watch groups are not made up of
vigilantes. These are people committed to being the extra eyes and
ears LAPD needs for reporting crime and assisting neighbors.
They help build pride in a community.
The program educates community residents regarding their roles and
responsibilities in the prevention of crime, and encourages them to
take active measures in crime prevention, assisting the police in
organizing the community into a cohesive unit working toward the goal
of building a safer neighborhood.
Neighborhood Watch groups discuss neighborhood crime issues with the
objective of developing solutions to local problems. Officers supply
crime information to neighborhood watch organizations and instruct
these groups in various crime prevention techniques.
In many areas, the continuity and success of the Neighborhood Watch
program hinges on a person referred to as the Block Captain. The "Block
Captain" is a community member who acts as a liaison between those
who work and / or live in a particular area, and the officers assigned
to serve there.
Through the Block Captain, and through neighborhood general meetings,
this liaison is maintained with LAPD, often on an informal basis.
These citizens volunteers, who represent their particular block or
neighborhood, pass along concerns and recommendations from their area
to the Senior Lead Officer for handling. They also coordinate community
meetings to facilitate problems solving efforts between their neighborhoods
and the Department.
When a group decides to form a Neighborhood Watch it can:
the police department about local crime prevention, and help
in training members about home security and reporting skills,
and how to recognize local crime patterns
a coordinator and block captains who are responsible for organizing
meetings and relaying information to members
Recruit members, keep up-to-date on new residents, and make
special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents, and
with local government and law enforcement to put up Neighborhood
Watch signs, usually after at least 50 percent of all households
in a neighborhood are enrolled
For the most part
Neighborhood Watch groups meet together once a month, and it's members
maintain loose contact with each other in between.
all can, and should, belong to (or start up) a Neighborhood
As we said, you can call the Community
at the LAPD Division that serves your area for the name of your Senior
Lead Officer and his or her cell phone number.
The SLO for your Basic Car will be delighted to direct you to a Watch
nearby, enlist you as a Block Captain, or help you get started on
settling up your own community's new Neighborhood Watch.