My neighborhood in Pleasanton—the Oak Forest neighborhood–has a neighborhood watch program that is now about a year old. Some residents had talked about starting one for quite some time, motivated by vandalism, property thefts and other concerns, including traffic issues and door to door solicitations.
We were concerned about safety and security and finally decided it was time to do some research and get the ball rolling. We found plenty of information available online about the neighborhood watch programs—there are actually several national groups that offer materials and affiliations.
Our neighborhood watch program, like most, began when a group of us formed a committee and did some planning. We found Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez and City Manager Johnny Huizar to be enthusiastic supporters of a well-managed and run neighborhood watch program. The city even placed the signs throughout the neighborhood, warning visitors that we do have an active program to protect ourselves and our neighbors. Some of us bought our own signs to help get the word around.
Our committee started meeting monthly and later shifted to quarterly. We still schedule quarterly meetings, but we only meet as needed. We don’t replace police, in fact we have found them to be active and willing partners of our program, and we can be their eyes and ears.
Some watch programs have included citizen patrols, block captains and fairly elaborate organizational structure. While our group could implement measures like these we haven’t considered them to be needed, if we all keep our eyes and ears open.
The program works, but it takes people doing their part, even if it’s only a few helping keep the neighborhood safe. We created a Facebook group (closed) to give our residents a way to keep up to date on what’s going on. Some way to keep people in touch is necessary.
Neighborhood watch is a voluntary program and partnership. It works because people make it work. If you are concerned about neighborhood safety consider this as a way to help law enforcement keep our community safe. Your local law enforcement will be happy to help.
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.