How to Make a Strong Block Watch

  • By Spokane C.O.P.S.
  • 19 May, 2016

Block Watch is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, bringing citizens together with law enforcement to reduce opportunities for crime to occur. The idea is neighbors look out for each other and work together tackle issues and, when needed, report issues to law enforcement.

Here are some ways to make your Block Watch as strong as possible (for information on how to start a Block Watch, click here ).

Partner with other organizations: Leverage the expertise and knowledge of other organizations to strengthen your Block Watch. Your local C.O.P.S. shop  and Neighborhood Conditions Officer not only add to a Watch group’s credibility, but can provide you with vital information and resources. Contact your victims’ services office to gain knowledge on helping victims of crime. Reach out to citizens’ association, community development office, tenants’ association, or housing authority to see if they can offer any helpful resources.

Be consistent: Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to decide upon program strategies and activities. National Night Out Against Crime on the 1st Tuesday in August each year is a great way to start a Block Watch or to strengthen your current Watch. Don’t let your Block Watch fizzle out-create and keep a consistent schedule that engages the members.

Utilize communication tools: For some Block Watch groups, communicating through a phone tree or email distribution is the most effective. But don’t forget about new technology ways of communicating, such as or Facebook private closed groups. Picking a communication tool helps prevent the Block Watch from falling apart due to poor communication. Check out our blog post of the best free communication tools for neighbors.

Engage stay at home members. Ask people who seldom leave their homes to be “window watchers,” looking out for children and reporting any unusual activities in the neighborhood. 

Sponsor a crime prevention fair. Take your group’s enthusiasm for crime prevention beyond your housing unit! You can share your crime prevention knowledge (and the benefits of Block Watch) with others at a church hall, temple, shopping mall, or community.


Curious about the history of Block Watch?

Block Watch can trace its roots back to the days of colonial settlements, when night watchmen patrolled the streets. The modern version of Block Watch was developed in response to requests from sheriffs and police chiefs who were looking for a crime prevention program that would involve citizens and address an increasing number of burglaries. Nationally launched in 1972, Block Watch counts on citizens to organize themselves and work with the Spokane C.O.P.S. shops, the Neighborhood Conditions Officers, and other law enforcement to keep a trained eye and ear on their communities, while demonstrating their presence at all times of day and night. The program took off quickly: in just ten years, data showed that 12 percent of the population was involved in a Block Watch.

For more crime prevention and public safety information, follow us on Facebook , Twitter , Pinterest , or LinkedIn

Want to make Spokane a safer place? Volunteer at your local C.O.P.S. shop with one of our crime prevention programs , from lifting fingerprints off of vehicles to catch car prowlers to organizing a block watch for your neighborhood.

Spokane C.O.P.S.

By Spokane C.O.P.S. 24 Oct, 2016

We all want to live in communities and neighborhoods that are safe.  Communities that are connected and watch out for each other are the greatest resource to fight crime, and protect each other from harm and property damage.  Everyone can be a community watchdog by simply watching your neighborhood for things that seem out of place, keeping an eye out for signs of abuse or other unsafe behavior, and reporting anything that seems suspicious.  We've compiled a list of resources to show you what you what to watch for and what resources are available to protect your neighborhood. 

  • Elder abuse: It is everyone's job to protect our most vulnerable, including our elderly. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has a number of resources to help elders in our community. Click Here to get information on reporting abuse to Adult Protective Services as well as resources for housing, long term care and more. 

  • Child abuse:  We should also watch and protect children in our community. DSHS also handles allegations of child abuse.   Click here to get all the information on where to report suspicions of child abuse and get other resources.  Remember, DSHS will investigate to see if actual abuse has taken place, so you should report any suspicions and let DSHS make the determination. 

  • Graffiti: The City of Spokane offers an online tool to report graffiti that has worked in reducing incidents.   Click here to find out more and get a link to their tool. 

  • Child in a hot car: There are far too many stories of children  dying or being seriously injured being left in a hot car, Click Here to get information on what you can do, and what protections you have for being a "Good Samaritan"  

  • Report unsafe driver:  If you suspect someone can no longer operate a car safely you can file a report with the Department of Licensing. Click Here for information on unsafe drivers and how to file a report. 

  • Drunk driver: If you see a car or other vehicle that you suspect may have a drunk driver, don't engage them directly, Click Here to get information on what you can do to keep your streets safe.

  • Abandoned Vehicles: Vehicles left on our streets can be really annoying, but they can also be indications of crimes or other dangerous activity.   Click Here to get information on what to look for with an abandoned car and where you can report it to resolve the issue.

  • Potholes:  Potholes make your neighborhood streets an eyesore, but can also do damage to you and your neighbors' vehicles.   Click Here to find out how you can report potholes and make your streets more accessible and safer.

  • Crime Tipline: Think you've seen a crime? Have information that could help police?  No matter how hard they work police can't be everywhere, if you hear information or see evidence of a crime you can help police solve crimes and make the city, and your neighborhood safer.   Click Here to find out how.

  • Property Drop Off: Having your stolen is really frustrating and awful.  Help out your neighbors and police by returning property that you think might be stolen and letting police and other volunteers work to return the property.   Click Here for information on where you can return items.

  • Join a Neighborhood Observation Patrol (NOP): If you really want to neighborhood safer why not be trained by Spokane Police on how to do it?  Joining a NOP you'll know the best ways to work with police to reduce crime and keep yourself and your neighbors safe. Click Here to find out how to join a NOP. 

  • Code Enforcement Program: Crime isn't the only thing that can affect our neighborhoods negatively.  Graffiti, overgrown weeds, excessive trash and other issues can be real problems for our neighborhoods.   Click Here to find out what a violation is, and how you can report it to improve your neighborhood and make life a little bit better for you and your neighbors.

Better communities begin with all of us doing our part.  Armed with these resources you can be a community watchdog and help your neighborhood work together and be a safer and better place to live. Stronger neighborhoods make a safer, stronger city.

By Spokane C.O.P.S. 13 Oct, 2016
With recent headlines about a sex offender being released in Spokane (See Here and Here ), the best way to safeguard your neighborhoods and families is to be well informed. The Sex Offender Registry is a tool allowing citizens to access information on registered sex offenders. Here’s a breakdown on what you need to know.
By Spokane C.O.P.S. 07 Oct, 2016

Spokane C.O.P.S. is here with Safe Streets! Safe Streets is a step-by-step approach, channeling all your frustrations into a plan of action utilizing civil courts. Since nuisance houses are defined in the city municipal code, you can effectively take the owner of the house (whether they live there or the house is a rental property) to court for violating this ordinance. A judgment against the owner results in fines paid to affected neighbors.

Safe Streets is a community action guide for the city and county of Spokane that includes community policing tools for helping make your neighborhood safe and nuisance free. Safe Streets motivates individuals to participate at the most fundamental level of the democratic process to create a community that reflects the standards and moral of the residents. It also teaches the community how to maintain those standards. Safe Streets will show you how to recognize nuisance house danger signs,  organize your block, form a team with police and possible city officials, document a public nuisance, research property ownership, and deal with the cooperative and uncooperative property owners. Safe Streets empowers citizens to create a nuisance-free neighborhood that is a safe, clean, and a healthy environment for individuals and families.

Safe Streets can be a much faster way to get results than other options. Oftentimes, even repeated visits by the police is not enough to change behavior. But by facing legal action and potentially large fines for failure to act, owners often deal with the problem immediately as that is preferable to going to court.  The Safe Street program has been implemented over 450 times with successful results.

Stop by your neighborhood C.O.P.S. shop for more information.





By Spokane C.O.P.S. 29 Sep, 2016

Here are the top news stories about SPD, Spokane crime rates, significant arrests, and more.

By Spokane C.O.P.S. 21 Sep, 2016
You don't need to be a police officer to play a role in reducing crime in Spokane! Everyday people are stepping up to make their community safer-here's our favorite stories of citizens taking action to make our city safer.
By Spokane C.O.P.S. 07 Sep, 2016

Over 7,000 cases of personal property theft have been recorded so far this year (up 4.5% from this time last year). In many of these cases, Spokane police officers are able to recover the stolen property...with no way of identifying the owner. When they can’t find the owner, the items eventually go to auction to free up much needed space in the police evidence facility. This raises an important question-if your property is stolen and recovered by police, would you be able to prove it’s yours?

That’s where Operation ID comes into play. The idea is to mark your valuable possessions with an identifying number (like your driver’s license number). Engraving a number helps deter theft since it’s harder to sell an ID-ed item to a pawn shop. If the item is stolen, the identifying number helps you prove ownership of the item to the police.

Operation ID also involves creating an inventory of the make and model of all ID-ed items, which you then put in a secure place. In the event of theft, fire damage, or other incident where you need to make a claim to your insurance company for item replacement, your information is ready for the insurance company.

Operation ID is a free service that only takes a few minutes. Bring your valuables to your local C.O.P.S. shop to borrow an engraver and pick up an inventory log.

Another property identification program is , a city wide bike registration database. The information uploaded during registration is used by police to connect a recovered bike to its rightful owner. You can bring your bike by your local C.O.P.S. shop and our volunteers will register it for you (and you can get a free child’s helmet while supplies last).

For more crime prevention information, check out our Facebook , Twitter , Linkedin , and Pinterest .
By Spokane C.O.P.S. 05 Sep, 2016

Here are the top news stories about SPD, Spokane crime rates, significant arrests, and more.

By Spokane C.O.P.S. 31 Aug, 2016
The Sex Offender Registry is a tool allowing citizens to access information on registered sex offenders. Here’s a breakdown on what you need to know.
By Spokane C.O.P.S. 24 Aug, 2016
Getting a social media account hacked is a stressful experience, with potential harms of reputation damaging information posted, identifying information collected, and the logistics of undoing the damage. While no social media account is 100% impenetrable, there are easy steps to take to drastically reduce your risk of your Twitter account being hacked.
By Spokane C.O.P.S. 24 Aug, 2016
Early September is an interesting time of year, showing the full range of human emotions. Children everywhere enter a state of depression as they begin getting their school materials ready, while simultaneously most parents burst out singing the old classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” at the thought of getting the kids out of the house again. At least that’s how it was in my family growing up.

But there is one thing everyone can agree on: staying safe. And we here at Spokane C.O.P.S. are, as usual, committed to your safety. So we’ve created a list of a few things that you can do to help keep your kids safe as they head back to school.
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