Neighborhood Watch: A Community Approach To Crime Prevention

What Is Crime Watch?

The Bernardsville Police Department encourages neighborhoods to participate in Neighborhood Watch programs sponsored by the Police Department. The information below explains how Neighborhood Watch works and how to organize and maintain a successful program. Neighborhood Watch was created to obtain citizen involvement in discouraging and preventing residential crime. The program uses citizen involvement to secure their own homes and personal property and to report any suspicious activity to the police.

National Neighborhood Crime Facts

  • Household burglary is one of the easiest crimes to commit and prevent but one of the hardest to solve.
  • Over one-half of police time is spent on investigating burglaries.
  • Household burglary is one of the most rapidly increasing major crimes in the nation.
  • Many home burglars are young amateurs looking for easy targets.
  • Statistics show that in over one-quarter of household burglaries there was not any forced entry involved.
  • A majority of household burglaries occur during daylight hours.
  • Household burglary has a high potential for death or injury in cases where a burglar is surprised by the property owner.

How Neighborhood Watch Works

Neighborhood Watch operates to educate participants in the principles of deterrence, delay, and detection. The program depends on a communication network between residents and local law enforcement officers. Vigilante actions are in no way condoned by the Neighborhood Watch program. No one is asked to take personal risk or be a hero.

Organizing a Program

First, visit your neighbors and tell them you are interested in discouraging crime in the neighborhood. Ask them for help toward this goal. Secondly, organize a neighborhood meeting and contact the Bernardsville Police Department to have an officer address the group or be present to answer questions. The meeting can be held at a residence in the neighborhood or at Borough Hall. The Police Department will require a healthy representation of participating residents to qualify for the program.

At the meeting the group should select block captains and co-captains to organize the program. Block captains may prepare a listing of names, addresses, phone numbers and email contacts as well as emergency contact numbers for participants on their block. Copies should be distributed to each participating household.

Once the police department’s requirements are met, the Police Department will request that the Dept.of Public Works erect Neighborhood Watch signs at each entrance to the neighborhood or block. In addition, decals will be provided for participating residents to display on the front door or window of their home to act as an additional deterrent.

Program Duties

Since awareness and involvement are the keys to a successful program, keeping interest high and continuing the group’s crime prevention education must be a primary focus of all participants. Specific duties include:

Block Captain/Co-captain:

  • Schedule periodic group meetings (at least every six months), and encourage each homeowner to attend.
  • Act as a liaison between homeowners and the police.
  • Invite a police officer to address the group and share information on such topics as home security, identity theft, personal security and crimes against the elderly.
  • Contact new neighbors about the program.
  • Disseminate any special information to the group such as crime patterns in the area, homeowners that are on vacation, or attending a function listed in the newspaper such as attending a wedding or funeral.


  • Attend the program meetings and read the newsletter.
  • Secure your home and personal property.
  • Be alert to suspicious activity and report it immediately.
  • Have your newspaper stopped and mail picked up when away.
  • Inform your neighbors and block captain if you plan to be away so that special attention can be given to your home.

The Neighborhood Watch is a proven crime reduction program. But, like any self-help activity, its success depends upon you and your neighbor.

Get involved in Bernardsville Neighborhood Watch

Anyone interested in establishing a Neighborhood Watch program is asked to contact Ptl. Scott Chertoff by calling the Department at 908-766-0037 or emailing ATTN: Ptl. Chertoff.