The Neighborhood Watch in Sarasota and Manatee County

Thu, Apr 5, 2012

General Legal Issues

Neighborhood Watch in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, FloridaNeighborhood watches were created to give neighborhoods an additional sense of security and to create a network to look out for each other within a community. They have been existence for many, many years.

All of Florida’s counties and cities have different requirements for and definitions of neighborhood watches. Some counties have even added additional services, like community patrols, to boost that sense of security for neighborhoods.

Since the neighborhood watch has come under scrutiny in recent times, SmithLaw decided to examine the ins and outs of neighborhood watches in Sarasota and Manatee County.

General information about starting a Neighborhood Watch

Begin by talking with neighbors and establishing what concerns the neighborhood is facing. You will need to find interested neighborhood citizens willing to work on committees and attend meetings. This group needs to work well together and the organizers need to get to know these volunteers well, to decide what jobs or positions they will be best suited for.

If you decide to set up a neighborhood watch in your neighborhood, be sure you contact local law enforcement before creating it so that you can be sure you are following any rules required by your city or county. Law enforcement officials are great for helping establish boundaries for watch members and providing advice about actions by members in certain situations. They should know about your neighborhood watch plans and rules. They can also advise about simple steps like leaving lights on a timer when you are out, locking doors, increasing outdoor lighting, and making sure shrubbery other obstacles aren’t giving intruders places to hide.

Once you have a nice group together, you should do research on other neighborhood watches. Shadowing other successful watches can be a great help in establishing your own group and getting ideas.

Specific positions and rules for your neighborhood watch need to be established so that the watch runs well and that members know what rules they need to follow to protect themselves and the neighborhood. Several organizations are helpful for setting up your neighborhood watch. Examples include USA on Watch, the National Sheriff’s Association, and The National Crime Prevention Council. They can help with signage, setting up positions, creating rules and regulations, training, and more.

USA on Watch is where you can register your official neighborhood watch. Registering is recommended to make it more official, as well as to receive valuable materials that can help your neighborhood watch run successfully. (Your city or county might also require registering.)

Neighborhood watch information specific to Manatee County

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has specific information on their website for individuals looking to start a neighborhood watch. They provide training programs to assist neighborhood watch volunteers. This information is found here. To find out more information call 941-747-3011 ext. 2500.

If you live in the city of Bradenton, the Bradenton police also offers information about starting a neighborhood watch here. In addition, they offer free home and business security surveys conducted by officers certified by the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design agency. More information is also available by calling 941-741-3041.

Neighborhood watch information specific to Sarasota County

Sarasota County offers many programs for civilians interested in helping to keep their community safe. These are listed here on the Sheriff’s website. The website specifically denotes the responsibilities of each type of volunteer and what their duties are. They provide training for these positions, as well. You can contact the Crime Prevention department at 941-861-4084 for more information. The City of Sarasota offers information about their services for neighborhood crime prevention here.

Image credit: Jo Bourne

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