According to the FBI, crime rates in the US have decreased in the past two decades. In fact, in the first half of 2014, burglary offenses dropped 14 percent, motor vehicle thefts decreased by 5.7 percent, and there was a 5.6 percent drop in larceny-theft. While those numbers are promising, we, as community members, need to work to maintain these lower crime rates.
So what can we do?
We can work toward a safer community and consider getting more involved in crime prevention. As a matter of fact, throughout the 90’s, there was an average of a 30 percent decrease in burglaries nationwide due to communities getting more involved in crime prevention.
So, let’s keep is up. Here are nine ways you can get involved in your community to keep it safe.
- Join the town watch (or start one) – Join in a town watch program (or get the community involved in one). Knowing the neighborhood’s trouble spots and keeping streets and homes well-lit can deter any possible burglaries. When criminals see a well-marked neighborhood with town watch signs, it makes them think twice before committing a crime. Town watch programs have helped communities experience a 16 and 26 percent reduction in crime compared to areas not involved in a town watch.
- Get to know your neighbors – Whether you are going on vacation or heading to work, knowing your neighbors provides and extra set of eyes on your house (and maybe an extra set of keys for emergencies). People care about those they know, so getting to know your neighbors and building relationships provides that layer of community and a sense of wanting to watch out for each other.
- Educate kids about bullying – Educate kids on a safe way to help others. Encourage confidence in resolving problems peacefully and not through violence. Make it clear that you expect kids to take action if they see someone being hurt, or if they are hurt themselves. By leading by example, you can teach empathy rather than violence.
- Initiate a buddy system – The buddy system is not just a system for kids. It’s less likely a criminal will approach two people instead of one vulnerable person. A buddy can be more than just a walking partner. Your buddy can also make sure that you have everything you need to be safe (from a trip to just that walk down the street). And, of course, a buddy can always be there to call for help in those times of emergency.
- Share tips about security systems – If you, or someone you know, decides to install a security a system, be sure that information gets out into the neighborhood. There are a few reasons why this is beneficial. First, knowing that a particular community is equipped with alarm systems will help build a “secure” reputation for your community and hopefully thwart potential criminals from considering that community a target. Second, if a security system has proved to be beneficial for someone in the community, other members might want to look into a similar system and can do a price/capability comparison. Remember, there is strength in numbers so the greater number of community members equipped with security systems, the more secure the entire community will be in the end.
- Get involved in local organizations – By getting involved, neighbors become better acquainted and make the connections necessary to keep the community safe. The Bureau of Justice Assistance offers ways your community can get involved and pair with local businesses and organizations to create a safer community.
- Create a favorable rapport with local police enforcement – Involve your local law enforcement to get involved in community events. Get to know who they are and respect what they do. By creating a relationship with your local law enforcement, you can communicate community concerns more effectively and become an extension of their force.
- Create a Cleaner Neighborhood – Burglars are attracted to unkempt neighborhoods. A community with litter, abandoned cars, and run-down buildings tells burglars that you don’t care about where you live or about your neighbors. Do what you can to control the environment in which you live by starting at home and ensuring your space is clean and clutter-free. To continue the commitment, work to initiate a “clean-up day” and invite your neighbors to join you in keeping your community clean and safe.
- Stay current with crime trends – Knowing what’s happening in your neighborhood and those around you can help you understand the possible warning signs of impending crime. Know what’s happening and be ready to report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement. Staying up-to-date with the news and crime trends can help your community stay proactive and involved, and out of those dreadful headlines (unless of course it’s to celebrate your awesome clean-up day or community events!).
By focusing on a safer community, you can work toward protecting you, your family, and those around you from falling victim to crimes that could leave your community devastated. By getting more involved or following any other tips mentioned above, you can help lead the way in creating a safer community for everyone.