Crime Watching is a bit like the dog that did not bark in the night. It is a very complicated situation which is difficult to quantify, but if the police received 200 calls a month from your territory before you started and then received only 25 calls with you in place, that reduction can be some measure of efficacy.
It is important to understand what is expected of NCWs. A police officer enforces the law. An NCW is supposed to suppress crime, sometimes merely by being present. NCWs may also deter, defuse, or dismantle situations that have the likelihood or potential for spiraling into violence or serious trouble.
And then, in addition to all this, the DOJ sometimes expects the NCW to analyze crime clusters, illuminate root causes of those clusters, and suggest potential strategies to address them, which can be very frustrating. If you report, for example, that an area would benefit from more lighting to discourage furtive criminal activity, the property owner can say that they can't afford the increase to their electricity bill.
You may consider the foregoing an informal primer on the NCW program, but the NY Times Editorial Board has gone much further than pontificating in ignorance. They have conflated other issues which are not legally connected to this program.
What is the connection between Florida's Stand Your Ground law and the NCW program? There is no connection. SYG is a state law. The COPS project is federally mandated. The (airquotes) connection exists only in the imagination of this editorial writer.
The NY Times needs to end its spiral obsession with Trayvon Martin. This newspaper is not going to force Florida voters to define deviance downward by trying to establish that teenager as the new normative standard for the safety and security of Florida's communities.
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:: NY Times Editorial ::
Neighborhood Watch Fantasists
:: C.O.P. or COPS ::
Community-Oriented Policing Services