What Makes Neighborhood Watches Work
Talk of the Nation wrote:CONAN: We're talking about neighborhood watch. Dennis Rosenbaum, a criminology professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Also with us, the founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
Let's see - we go next to - this is Carrie. Carrie with us from northeastern Oregon.
CARRIE: Yeah. This is Carrie.
CONAN: Carrie. Go ahead, please.
CARRIE: Yeah. Well, it just concerns me - and I know you had a number of different callers that hopefully are balancing this all. But I just would hate for a neighborhood watch to get a negative name from this. I live in a rural area, and my closest police officer is a bare minimum half an hour away. We don't even have coverage from 10 to 2 at night. And we are - have a very active neighborhood watch. We recently had a - someone shot in cold blood just a valley over, and that guy was wandering around. So we were all connected and talking to each other in case he came our way.
However, we are never - we've had a lot of training, and we do have to have our background check. We are never told to be the aggressor. However, we have been deeply instructed to have a defense. In fact, even to the point of - I was a stay-at-home mom with my kids, and I should have a corner in my living room where I go. And actually, we do have - most of us do have guns. However, I have two separate concealed gun licenses and have been trained. And we're told to go in the corner.
And so what I'm saying is that I would hate for something terrible to happen in neighborhood watch to be disbanded. You know, if it really went wrong because - I can't count on my police officer, not because he's a bad guy, but just because he's far away. And so my being connected to my neighbors and in fact we have a call list where we call - the first person we call is actually our neighborhood watch person and then 911 because they can get here in five or 10 minutes.
CARRIE: And so I guess my main concern here is that we make sure that - I'm sure that there's all different neighborhood watches and some of them maybe don't function as well as ours. But it is a great program. And I've actually heard that the fellow that was involved with this horrible shooting of the young man wasn't an actual member of the neighborhood watch. I don't know if that's true or not. But...
CONAN: I think he sort of appointed himself and worked by himself.
CONAN: So - but...
CARRIE: He had (unintelligible)...
CONAN: ...clearly, the police were aware of him. If there was no liaison, he made dozens of calls to the local police, so they knew who he was.
CONAN: So, anyway, but, Carrie, thanks very much. Dennis Rosenbaum, you were saying?
ROSENBAUM: Yeah. Neal, I would like to support what Carrie is saying. I think that we tend to over - we want to be cautious about what can happen with neighborhood watch and how it can go awry. But generally speaking, we have thousands and thousands of people in this country who are volunteering their time to help keep their neighborhood safe. And I think that they're following rules, and they're doing it the right way. And we don't want to discourage that because as a researcher I can tell you we have lots of research that tells us that crime is prevented and controlled by the community being involved. And that's really, really important in the end. And that's how we create collective efficacy...
CONAN: Carrie, thanks very much for the phone call. And, Dennis Rosenbaum, thank you very much for your time today. I just wanted to squeeze in this email from B.D. in Boise: I remember the 1980s riding the train from East Orange to Fordham Road in the Bronx every day. The only way I slept on that train, Guardian Angels. Those kids did good. Curtis Sliwa, thanks very much for your time. This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.