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Council to Review Neighborhood Watch Program

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

At tonight’s Council meeting, the City Council will discuss City’s Neighborhood Watch program and the annual National Night Out event.

The Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee (NWSC) was established in 2011 to promote and support community neighborhood watch programs city-wide. The NWSC replaced a previous model where one resident served as the city-wide coordinator working with neighborhood coordinators.

Currently all three of the NWSC positions are vacant. Staff feels that the top down neighborhood watch model is not working in College Park. Neighborhoods in the City are using different models to distribute public safety information. Some use the traditional block captain format, other neighborhoods use a community listserve or the national Nextdoor blog to distribute information.

Public Services staff provides logistical support to active Neighborhood Watch coordinators. Council may decide to disband the NWSC or to appoint new members.

Council will discuss how to plan for National Night Out at tonight’s meeting. The National Night Out (NNO) is an annual public safety awareness event; it is held the first Tuesday in August in most jurisdictions in the United States. College Park most years has held multiple events on NNO. Each neighborhood with an active Neighborhood Watch coordinator plans activities specific to their neighborhood and coordinates with Public Services staff. At this time there are five active neighborhood watch programs in the City.

In 2011, the Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee planned and organized a central NNO event at the College Park Aviation Museum. The event was well attended. Many municipalities in Prince George’s county hold one event on NNO. Staffing multiple events on NNO can be difficult for the Prince George’s Police (PGPD) and Fire Departments. Often helicopter, large police, EMS and fire equipment is in high demand on NNO.

College Park has incorporated a public safety display including the PGPD helicopter and bomb squad robot at College Park Day; a day when other jurisdictions are not competing for these resources.

Council will be discussing whether to continue coordinating and supporting individual neighborhood events on NNO, supporting a central NNO event, consider alternating between central and neighborhood sites and consider celebrating NNO in October when students have returned to the area.

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