It’s 9pm on a Friday night. The sound of a window breaking is muffled as two men reach through the broken glass and unlatch the window. They climb in the house. On Sunday morning when the family returns from a weekend getaway, they find their home in a mess and valuables gone….
A white minivan drives down the street and parks a few blocks from little Jenny’s home. Her mother and father are on their way home, as well. Jenny jumps off her school bus and heads for the front door. The white minivan starts driving up the street and watches Jenny go inside. Mom and Dad get home, and they have a nice evening. The next day Jenny goes to her bus stop where the same white minivan is stopped. The same white minivan pulls up to Jenny and asks if she wants a ride to school. Jenny says no and backs away from the car and runs to a neighbor’s house…
Both of the above accounts are, of course, fictional, but anyone can see incidents like these can happen in any area. Bluff Park as a community came together and said we will not let criminals come into the community and jeopardize the safety of the residents and businesses. Through community meetings with the Hoover police and Hoover City Council, a police substation was added in November of 2006. In conjunction with this, information was also given to start Neighborhood Watch Groups.
The holidays are over. Now, two months into 2007, it’s time for Bluff Park to come together as small groups and help prevent the fictional stories above from being headlines on the evening news.
So how can the community do this? The Hoover Police and the National Crime Prevention Council has provided information on starting Neighborhood Watch Programs (this is not an association and voluntary). The National Crime Prevention Council says that Neighborhood Watch programs are the most effective answer to fighting crime.
Bluffparkal.org being By, For and About Bluff Park is here to give residents some step-by-step information on how to form a Watch . A Watch Group is a group of neighbors who look out for each other and their property. Bluffparkal.org is not in charge of Watch Groups. We are just a way of communicating the information.
Fear of being the first one to step up and get the ball rolling is an obstacle many residents have had. All it takes is one neighbor talking to another and deciding if they want to form a watch on their block.
For small groups, 4 to 10 homes are about a block. You should have line of sight of the homes in your group. Groups as small as 2 homes will still work and more might join after the block watch has been established.
Contact Officer Brian Foreman of the Hoover Police 444-7700 or
. Officer Foreman will set up a meeting with you to look at statistics for your street or block. (Click here for statistics for all of Hoover PD's 30 Beat (the Bluff Park area).
Publicize the meeting with flyers or go door to door. You can also make phone calls to neighbors you know personally.
Hold your first meeting to see neighbor’s interest. Begin to identify issues that need to be addressed.
This can be done at the first meeting with Officer Foreman.
What Block Captains do:
A Block Captain will serve as a liaison between neighbors and at times the Hoover Police. Other responsibilities include:
Keeping up to date contact information on members in the group. This could be done through a newsletter, a phone tree or even just e-mails.
Communicating information about future meetings (setting future meetings and events), alerting the group of crime incidents, and squashing rumors and gossip (so that your Watch just sticks to the facts).
Example of how the Block Captain and the Hoover Police would communicate:
Other activities the Watch Might want to participate in
With police the Watch Group can:
Train its members in home security techniques.
Learn good observation skills and crime reporting.
Learn about types of crime that affect the area.
Sponsor cleanups or beautify the area, physical conditions like abandoned cars and overgrown vacant lots contribute to crime.
Celebrate success, recognize volunteers, hold dinners or meet for coffee.
Discuss broader issues such as drug abuse, gangs, self-protection tactics, and isolation of the elderly, area schools, computer safety for adults and children and rape prevention.
Starting a Watch Group is not difficult; it can be fun as well as serve to protect the area. Businesses in the area can also benefit from forming a Business Watch Group, and it works the same way with minor variations. If you would like more information on starting a Watch Group on your block or business area, contact Officer Foreman at 444-7700 or
. Information can also be found on the Neighborhood Watch Information page at www.Bluffparkal.org and at the Hoover Police Sub-station next to Armorsafe.
Information in this article from National Crime Prevention Council www.ncpc.org “Starting a Neighborhood Watch” and The National Sheriff’s Association “Business Watch, Keeping Criminals out of your Business” pamphlet. Both materials are available at the Hoover Sub-station in Bluff Park.