Are Neighborhood Crime Watchers off the chain, running amok, and creating mayhem in the streets?
The NY Times would have you believe so . . .
In a recent editorial they launched a diatribe against NCWs in Florida based mostly on misunderstandings and misinformation. Because I have been a NCW in Florida myself, a refutation seems appropriate.
NCWs are not "self-appointed," and the Neighborhood Crime Watch program is not based on "vague traditions."
COPS or the Community-Oriented Policing Services is a network system which constitutes a supplementary safety net for many residents of Florida and elsewhere. It operates under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Justice, not "vague traditions."
One of the nodes on this network is a partnership between a modern version of the old-fashioned cop on the beat or the officer assigned to your neighborhood who works together with a civilian neighborhood crime watcher. And one of the strengths of this system is its flexibility; it can be adapted to many diverse types of situations.
First, at the behest of the police, a group of people select their choice of prospective candidate for the responsibility. The group may represent a gated community, an apartment complex, a subdivision, or a neighborhood, etc.
When approached with this proposal, many people decline. And the worse the neighborhood, the less chance there is that the community will find anyone willing to accept the responsibility. Many of those who do accept are older, more mature people, including senior citizens.
If the prospective NCW candidate accepts the responsibility, he or she has to pass a criminal background check and warrant search.The NCWs are described as volunteers simply because they are not paid, but there are no "self-appointed" NCWs.
I have "shadowed" people. It is not illegal to shadow people you suspect of vandalism or malicious mischief in your complex or campus. I have also rescued people from violent attack by watching them and then coming to their side to protect them. And I never told them what I was doing. They intuitively guessed and quietly thanked me for my help.
Part One of Two -
Continued . . .