Ask the Expert

Neighborhood safety

Q: We’d like to keep our family and neighborhood as safe as possible. What are some ways we can come together as a community to boost neighborhood safety?

Want to start a neighborhood watch program?

Find a law enforcement agency near you to answer questions and register: nnw.org/register-watch
Find a neighborhood watch program near you: nnw.org/find-a-watch-program

You can start by meeting your neighbors. Consider organizing a small block party and meet your neighbors informally. The Neighborhood Watch program is a great way for folks to formally organize themselves into a group that watches out for each other’s property. There are a few steps to start a Neighborhood Watch program. First, you can request information from your local police department, and an officer will reply to you with program information and maps of your area to help you set your group’s boundaries. After garnering the interest level, schedule a meeting with your law enforcement officer. The meeting takes about an hour but can go longer with questions. Once you and your neighbors are on the same page about watching out for each other, you can choose to meet every year or twice a year to stay in touch. Refresher meetings can occur every few years that include any new people who have moved into a house with your group’s boundaries. There are currently several hundred active Neighborhood Watch groups in Anchorage and even more across the state. Several neighborhoods have decided to communicate through social media platforms like Facebook or Nextdoor. Neighborhood Watch group members should exchange phone numbers and emails within their group, but they do not need to participate in social media. I suggest keeping it simple – talk to your neighbors as you are out walking your dog(s). Know what is normal for your street – it will be easier for you to recognize when something looks out of place. Show care and maintain your property – paint and mend the fence, replace any burned out lights and keep the yard landscaping tidy. If you park the car in your driveway, take a minute and remove any valuables or weapons you have in the car.

Officer Natasha Welch has been with the Anchorage Police Department since 2004 and works within the Community Action Policing Unit. Crime prevention training is her passion, and she is the administrator of Anchorage’s Neighborhood Watch program.