November 18, 2017

Is a Neighborhood Watch a Good Thing?

In our last blog post, we looked at some of the strategies that can be used to get neighbors to consent to the idea of a neighborhood watch being set up in their neighborhood. The inference we can make there is that there are neighbors who may object to the idea of a neighborhood watch being set up in their neighborhood. And that leads to a further inference that not all people view a neighborhood watch as a good thing. In fact, whether a neighborhood watch is a good thing is debatable.

The truth of the matter is that a neighborhood watch has potential to be a good thing. A neighborhood watch also has potential to be a bad thing. It depends on how it is run.

A neighborhood watch is a good thing to the extent that it can carry out its work without being too obtrusive. A neighborhood watch is a good thing to the extent that it can it can carry out its work without harassing the residents of a neighborhood, or the people who visit the neighborhood. A neighborhood watch is a good thing to the extent that it can carry out its work within the law, and without turning into a vigilante and without interfering with people’s right to privacy.

Conversely, a neighborhood watch turns into a bad thing when it starts operating as a vigilante force. Sometimes you visit a neighborhood, and you notice that the neighborhood feels like a jail: thanks to an oppressive neighborhood watch program. This is the sort of neighborhood where you have to keep on answering questions as to who you are, what your business there is… and so on: thanks to bad neighborhood watch policies. There are neighborhoods where you can’t invite visitors to your house: out of fear that the visitors may end up being harassed by the neighborhood watch. At that point, a neighborhood watch becomes undesirable.