Home security works best when an entire neighborhood or community is devoted to best security practices.
Communities across the United States have come up with innovative and effective ways to help residents enjoy better security in their homes and neighborhoods. Here are five communities in the U.S. with noteworthy home security services.
1. STAR, El Dorado County, California
STAR stands for Sheriff's Team of Active Retirees, a program in El Dorado County, California. STAR offers training for individual neighborhoods to form Neighborhood Watch programs, and it also offers free home vacation checks to those living in unincorporated areas of El Dorado County. The vacation checks include stopping by homes and checking the perimeter for signs of a break-in. If a problem is found, sheriff's deputies are notified so they can investigate. Homes are checked at least twice a week while homeowners are away.
2. Anderson Township Community Outreach Network, Ohio
The Anderson County Township Community Outreach Network is made up of a group of community officials that work with local Neighborhood Watch groups to improve home and neighborhood security. A full-time crime prevention officer has increased the number of Neighborhood Watch programs in the township from 10 to 80. The Network communicates daily by phone and email with more than 300 community contacts on burglary prevention and crime trends. Vandalism and car break-ins have dropped significantly, and stronger community relations between residents and community leaders have developed.
3. Lynchburg Police Department, Virginia
In addition to more than 40 local Neighborhood Watch groups, the Lynchburg, Virginia PD has helped with development of Business Watch groups. Every September, the community meets for Lynchburg Night Out, and the annual Partnership Meeting for Neighborhood and Business Watch programs. Throughout the year, the department offers educational presentations on a variety of topics, such as Halloween and holiday safety, target hardening, security evaluation, and wild animal safety. The department also sends out quarterly newsletters with seasonal security tips, and the local ABC television affiliate broadcasts biweekly safety tips.
4. West Scranton Hyde Park Neighborhood Watch Program, Pennsylvania†
Over a period of only three years, the West Scranton Hyde Park Neighborhood Watch program has gone from just starting out to making a significant positive impact on the community. Neighborhood Watch members have organized community cleanup projects and built partnerships with local law enforcement and other local government agencies. Priorities have included cleaning up trash, improving street lighting and addressing neighborhood blight. The group won a community "Part of the Solution" Award for transforming a local park from a dangerous nexus of criminal activity to a safe place for young people to be. They have also organized community events like outdoor movies and basketball games, and transformed an abandoned playground into a community garden, making the community a safer and more pleasant place to live.
5. Richland County Sheriff's Office, South Carolina
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott was presented in 2012 with a National Sheriff's Association Neighborhood Watch Excellence Award for his innovative approach to strengthening the local Guardian Watch program, which develops long-term crime solutions. Guardian Watch allows citizens to create reports with useful data and images that support law enforcement in their response to crime or suspicious behavior. Through the Guardian Watch program, the Sheriff's office is able to provide real-time monitoring and crime alerts to local citizens so they can take any necessary precautions.
You may not be aware of some of the great things your own local city or county law enforcement agencies are doing to help your neighborhood become more secure. It's worth checking out local law enforcement websites or calling local agencies to find out more about the home and neighborhood security services available in your community.