Meadowbrook Community Council

Supporting community spirit and creating a connected environment in NE Seattle's Meadowbrook community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Block Watch

Seattle PD

Elizabeth Scott
Precinct Crime Prevention Specialist
North Precinct

10049 College Way N., Seattle, WA 98133
Phone: 206-684-7711
Elizabeth.scott@seattle.gov


What Is Block Watch?

Block Watch is a program based on the principle that neighbors working together are the first and best line of defense against crime. The Seattle Police Block Watch Program began in 1972 and has seen significant involvement and success. Seattle has always been recognized for its Block Watch program. Roughly 30% of Seattle neighborhoods are currently involved in Block Watch, compared to a national average of fewer than 11%. As of 2012, there are over 3,800 registered block watch groups citywide. Within the North Precinct there is an estimate of 2,000 Block Watches. Block Watch has been shown to be an effective deterrent of crime at the neighborhood level.

How Does Block Watch Work?

Block Watch requires two basic commitments:

  • A commitment to be concerned about your neighbor’s property and well being as well as your own.
  • A commitment that when you see suspicious activity, you will take action by alerting your neighbors and by calling 9-1-1.

Block Watch really just organizes and extends what you are probably already doing on an informal basis. We tend to know and watch out for our closest neighbors, but a group of neighbors at one end of the block who are doing this may not know the group of neighbors at the other end of the block. Organizing a Block Watch makes this attitude of watchfulness more systematic, and provides a block map or contact list with neighbors’ names, telephone numbers and emails that can be used in case of an emergency.
Police will always tell you to call 911 when you see something suspicious. But, how do you know what’s suspicious in your neighborhood? First, you have to know what’s normal for your neighborhood. How do you know what’s normal? You get out from behind your doors and you talk to each other. It’s your neighborhood, your community. You know (or should know) what is normal for your neighborhood and what is out of place. The more you interact with each other, the more you are observant and engaged, the better able you are to identify those things that are unusual, out of place and suspicious: The things we ask you to tell police when calling 911.

Is Block Watch A Lot Of Extra Work?

Block Watch doesn’t require you to perform any special tasks, go to a lot of meetings, or take on extra responsibilities. You don’t have to patrol the neighborhood, or tell your neighbors every aspect of your business. Block Watch just involves being alert as a part of your everyday life.

All it requires is that you and your neighbors be familiar enough with each other to know who belongs in the neighborhood and who doesn’t; which cars are a part of the neighborhood and which aren’t; recognize when something suspicious is going on and being a little more observant of changes in your surroundings. It also requires that when you see something suspicious, you alert each other and you alert police.

How Does Block Watch Work?

Getting started is pretty easy. First, contact the Crime Prevention Coordinator for your area (names are listed below) for potential dates and times to have the coordinator meet with you and your neighbors. Once you have a date, place and time that works for you, invite your neighbors to come. It helps to invite all the neighbors in person. The meeting does not necessarily have to be at your home; it could be at the local library, community center, church, a neighbor’s home, etc. However, we do find that the further away the meeting is held from the individual block, the more likely attendance at the meeting will drop off. The number of households and the size of the area you want to include are up to you. At the meeting, we’ll discuss area crime, crime trends, prevention measures and proactive things neighbors can do to positively impact public safety. The crime prevention coordinator will bring printed resource materials for you and your neighbors. A sign-up sheet gets passed around for neighbors to list their contact information (name, address, phone, email). The sheet becomes the basis for your block watch map or telephone tree.

What Are My Individual Responsibilities When It Comes To Block Watch?

Block watch really boils down to two commitments

  • A commitment to be concerned about your neighbor’s property and well being as well as your own.
  • A commitment that when you see suspicious activity, you will take action by calling your neighbors and 9-1-1.

As individual members of the block watch, there are other things we encourage you to do that will strengthen your block watch.

First, be alert. Pay attention to those things happening in your neighborhood. As we stated above, the more you interact with each other, the more observant and engaged you are, the better able you are to identify those things that are unusual, out of place and suspicious. When you see each other on the street, acknowledge each other, wave and say “hi.” When you see people you don’t know on the street, acknowledge them and say “hi” as well. This lets the person know that they have been seen and you acknowledge their presence. If they are there for legitimate purposes, this feels welcoming. If they are there for illegitimate purposes, it puts them on notice that they have been seen and can be identified if they engage in criminal or suspicious behavior. As most criminals do not want to draw attention to themselves, a simple acknowledgement that the neighborhood is paying attention and the person has been seen gives them the feeling that if they do something unsavory on that block, chances are good that police will be called. Often, that is enough to deter some criminal behavior

Second, make your own home security improvements:

  • Lock your doors and windows whenever you leave home, even if it is for a short time.
  • Update security by installing deadbolt locks on exterior doors and additional locks on vulnerable windows.
  • Light up the front and back entryways at night, whether you are home or not! Consider motion sensor lights for the rear areas of your home.
  • Be sure your house address is visible from the street.
  • Keep tools and ladders in a locked storage shed or garage.
  • Let trusted neighbors know when you are going to be away for extended period so they can keep an eye out for your home. Also let them know if someone will be staying at the house while you are gone.

Third, welcome new neighbors and invite them to join the block watch.

Also, consider taking a turn as block captain or Co-Captain. You can also volunteer to host your annual Night Out get together.


Seattle PD

Elizabeth Scott
Precinct Crime Prevention Specialist
North Precinct

10049 College Way N., Seattle, WA 98133
Phone: 206-684-7711
Elizabeth.scott@seattle.gov


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