-By Jennifer & Mark Duval
5 Reasons NOT to Join Crime Watch
Recently, we discovered the following reasons people in our area give for not joining Crime Watch. Please allow me a rebuttal even though you are probably tired of me harping on everyone to join. (Thank you, AGAIN, to those who have joined). To those who haven’t, I appeal to your love for our neighborhood and sincerely hope you will give this at least a quick read. It’s an honest perspective that may change your mind.
1. “It’s too much money.”
I get it! A lot of neighbors balk at the $350 price tag. It can certainly seem like a lot of money. But think about what happens if crime continues to spike, armed burglaries escalate in our neighboring streets, and the Dallas Police Department continues to struggle with short staffing amid record levels of crime. $350 is less than a buck a day to deter vandalism to our homes. THAT’S VALUE. And it’s less than the insurance deductible for a lot of folks.
Safety must be a priority. I’ll mention the short staffing of Dallas Police and the crime surges that are gaining national attention once again. There is little if any proactive policing going on in our city – it’s unfortunate but true. Rank and file police officers report they are routinely spending entire shifts answering 9-1-1 calls. They’re not patrolling our streets in any sort of preventative action. Bad guys (both male and female) who like to burgle homes and break into vehicles probably get to feeling pretty invincible when our Boys in Blue are so obviously preoccupied.
On the other hand, a marked police car with a uniformed officer slowly driving through Town Creek? That is a MAJOR deterrent to bad guys.
A lot of us can find about a dollar a day – switching to off-brand coffee, taking lunch to work a few days a month, gassing up with regular instead of premium – there are swaps to be made for most of us. And if $350 for a full year of police patrolling and responsiveness seems steep, then what price WOULD you put on your family’s safety? Please read on…
2. “My taxes pay for public safety and I shouldn’t have to pay again.”
In a perfect world, yes – this would absolutely be the case. But obviously, it’s not a perfect world.
Here’s the deal – our taxes provide law enforcement but don’t give us any real say in how the police department is run. We don’t get to tell them how quickly to respond to our 9-1-1 calls. We don’t get to tell them when and how often they can patrol. They must focus on the city in its entirety, not just on Town Creek. Our Crime Watch Program, which is judiciously supervised and audited by your HOA board, gives us the opportunity to guarantee that sworn Dallas Police Officers are focusing on our neighborhood for several hours every single day on a rotating proprietary schedule. The missing element to a Crime Watch Program that can deliver such safety and value is a neighborhood citizenry committed to fully funding the program year-after-year.
Please get on board and become a CW Household.
Even if you don’t own a Ring doorbell (we do, and we highly recommend them!), you can use the associated “Ring” smartphone app. The app provides neighbors’ reports of suspicious or criminal activity in our area. The Ring doorbell company is also a partner with DPD, and as such it works with the department to report on weekly crime stats for Lake Highlands and Town Creek. This app is a great way to receive valuable safety information to share with other homeowners in our area.
Surveillance systems and alarm programs are great. We have video and perimeter protection for our home on Atherton.
So, what are you going to do with that picture or video file of the guy trying to break into your house? You can text to 9-1-1 in Dallas now, but you can’t send images (yet). You can describe the bad guy to 9-1-1, but with the recent spike in violent crimes for Dallas, how long do you think it will take them to get to your place?
But, how about this? If you are a Crime Watch member, you CAN send those picture and video files to Crime Watch. And even if there’s no officer on duty, when an officer does come on duty s/he’ll know exactly who to look for. And will our Crime Watch officers spend hours/days/weeks looking for the perpetrator? You bet they will! The officers selected for our Crime Watch program are the cream of the crop, and incredibly diligent about keeping us safe. They really do feel personally responsible for Town Creek’s safety.
Which scenario would you like to see? A police officer dispatched by 9-1-1 eventually coming by the house to fill out a report and closing out the case? Or officers familiar with the neighborhood and genuinely interested in putting the bad guys away?
Here’s a personal experience and an example. We had a situation with squatters in our neighborhood a few weeks back. It was the Crime Watch officers who got rid of them. These are officers who will keep checking until they find their targets. On the other hand, officers dispatched by 9-1-1 would have looked once largely due to demands on their tight schedules.
I love technology, but it only captures and alerts us to criminals and bad acts – it may sometime help solve crime for the courtroom, but it doesn’t catch bad guys like Crime Watch can.
4. “Officers are not responsive/visible enough.”
I see this one on social media a good bit – people complain that they called the dedicated Crime Watch phone number and no one answered. Or they say they “never” see the patrol car driving their street.
That’s an easy one to explain – NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE MEMBERS!
If every homeowner in Town Creek joined Crime Watch, we could probably have an officer on duty 24 hours a day and there would ALWAYS be someone there to answer the phone. But we don’t have full participation, so the Crime Watch Advisory Committee works with Dallas Police to identify the times when our neighborhood is statistically most vulnerable to crime.
So sometimes the patrols occur overnight, sometimes they occur during the workday. Times when you may not notice them. And if your call goes to voicemail, it doesn’t mean nobody’s there – sometimes they’re out helping one of our neighbors. But I’ve never sent a text or left a voicemail that wasn’t returned.
5. “We already benefit from Crime Watch without needing to join.”
I’m not going to sugarcoat it – this excuse (and it IS an excuse in my book, not a feasible reason) really bothers me. I don’t mean to be rude to any of our neighbors, but when I hear or read that people deliberately piggyback on Crime Watch members it really upsets me, because it’s just wrong.
When the Crime Watch Program was explained to me as a new neighbor, it didn’t even occur to me that I wouldn’t need to join because the officers would patrol whether I participated or not. I was thrilled to live in an area concerned with safety, happy to participate, and eager to do my part (and gain extra patrol time). When this “excuse” was first presented to me, my reaction was not kind!
Yes, there are currently officers patrolling all our neighborhood streets, so there is a tangential benefit even for those who don’t join. But the beauty of Crime Watch is that we get exponentially safer with each new member. It is a “safety in numbers” program. By thinking of Crime Watch as a “freebie,” when you see the VALUE and you feel the BENEFIT – then you’re basically stealing from your neighbors. If this freeloading mentality is really something that plays into your decision NOT to join, it is inexcusably disrespectful to those of us who do join.
Certainly, I can understand the financial concerns and the hesitancies relating to effectiveness, but when I see or hear our neighbors talking this way – basically admitting that they’re shortchanging and devaluing the memberships of their friends and neighbors – it’s disturbing.
Is it okay to plug your electronics into your neighbors’ external outlets? No! Is it okay to splice into their cable TV or internet? Absolutely not. To avoid joining Crime Watch because you think you’re getting a free ride is inexcusable.
Several weeks ago, there was a post on social media from a non-member asking anyone who WAS a member of Crime Watch to call the Crime Watch officer for help. This person saw a suspicious person and wanted a member to call on their behalf. My initial reaction was, of course, concern – I certainly don’t want any of our neighbors to be prey for criminals and I don’t want predators lurking around our streets. But then, when the danger seemed to have abated, I got irritated. I know this non-member was nervous and scared, but a non-member asking a member to call for them is untenable. I sincerely hope the non-member joined that very day.
Not joining Crime Watch, and then expecting members to call for you when you see something distressing is kind of like turning off the water at your house to avoid that monthly water bill… then expecting your neighbor to let you shower at their house every day. Sure, your neighbor is probably a good, sympathetic person and likely to help, but the expectation that they’ll solve your problem for you is flat-out unfair.
Bottom line is, if homeowners start deciding they don’t NEED to join, that Crime Watch will continue to protect them without their participation… that’s when the program undoubtedly starts to die because people increasingly take it for granted.
So, what’s your excuse? Hopefully, I’ve talked you out of it because we are truly blessed to have Crime Watch in Town Creek. Not every neighborhood has this type of program, and ours is one of the largest in the city. But there’s plenty of room for growth – we’re not even close to 100 percent participation! And I will continue to advocate for new members on social media, at our events, and in our newsletter, because 100 percent participation is my ultimate goal. So please, if you haven’t already, join today!