Crime

Neighborhood Watch at the heart of Miami-Dade County citizen crime watch efforts

Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell
Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell

Like our Youth Crime Watch program, Neighborhood Watch is definitely at the forefront of crime prevention and we are very proud of the recognition we get from national programs across the country.

Note that some neighborhoods and municipalities have their own programs and criteria. Here’s information about Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade and how you can get involved:

1. When a resident calls our office, we take a request for service, listing all their information and concerns so that we may then forward them to the appropriate law enforcement department.

2. Crime watch meetings are held in the evenings during the week, normally at 7 p.m., a good time for most to be home from work.

3. Neighborhood meetings preferably are held at a nearby home so people can just walk to the location. This has been found across the country to be much more effective since the objective is to meet and get to know your neighbors.

In some areas, this part may not be possible due to crime issues, so we try to find a safe location nearby for the meeting — a church, clubhouse or, in many cases, in the middle of the street. In apartment buildings, we sometimes hold meetings in parking lots.

4. Once a meeting date has been established with the police officer and the resident hosting the meeting, fliers and brochures are provided to be distributed to all the neighbors. We provide this in English, Spanish and Creole. This is to inform everyone of the meeting; the brochure speaks to the implementation of Neighborhood Watch.

5. The night of the meeting, the police officer and someone from the crime watch office attends. The officer provides information regarding crime trends, crime statistics, what his role is as a community officer, what his department is doing to assist the community and discusses alarm issues, as well as how and when to call the police.

We teach residents what is needed when calling the police about a suspicious person or vehicle, and we answer questions.

6. Our coordinator explains how to set up a phone chain — a collection of phone numbers, addresses and special needs or information pertinent to their homes. When the phone chain is completed, it is shared with all the neighbors participating in the crime watch.

At this point we then provide, the crime watch signs, house stickers and T-shirts, all free of charge — we are funded by your tax dollars through the county commission.

We at Citizens’ Crime Watch are very proud of all the residents who have stepped up to the plate to improve our quality of life, but also for their continuous support in keeping Miami-Dade in the limelight across the country for our efforts to control crime.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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