Neighborhood Watch Volunteers

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As a volunteer-based organization Neighborhood Watch leaders must understand the foundational concepts of volunteer management.  Unlike other organizations with paid employees where an employer/employee relationship helps to make the organization run effectively Neighborhood Watch leaders must understand how to recruit, motivate and lead their volunteers to ensure success of group efforts.

The basic steps involved in volunteer management are Volunteer Recruitment; Leadership and Team Building; and Volunteer Recognition. All of these steps are vital to the success of your volunteer program and are discussed on the following pages. Within the discussion of these steps, topics such as communication and conflict resolution are also highlighted. First, let’s look at volunteer recruitment.

1.      Volunteer Recruitment

There are two types of volunteer recruitment: focused recruitment and wide net recruitment.

Focused recruitment is the recruitment of members with specific skills. Focused recruitment is used when you have a position that is not suitable for just anyone, but calls for someone with specific skills, commitment, characteristics, or traits. You can conduct focused recruitment by sending a message to a few skilled individuals rather than broadcasting your message to the entire neighborhood.

When using the focused approach, you zero in on finding an individual with the needed skills. An example would be recruiting a person with computer expertise for a position requiring technology skills. When using this approach, you might use a flyer listing specific needs, or recruit through word-of-mouth.

Wide net recruitment is the recruitment of members for positions that can be filled by almost anyone because no special skills are required. Some common wide net recruitment approaches are:

As you begin recruiting members, you will need to use the type of recruitment most appropriate for the positions you need to fill.

Let’s take a look at some typical Neighborhood Watch positions: Area Watch Coordinator, Block Captain, and Member. Which type of recruitment would you use with each position, and why? Is it possible to use both types?

Responsibilities: Law Enforcement Liaison

The Law Enforcement Liaison is the link between law enforcement and citizens. The liaison provides the following services to citizens:

  • Offers training and information on topics of interest or concern to members
  • Provides guidance, support and motivation to Neighborhood
  • Watch groups
  • Provides technical assistance

 Responsibilities: Area Coordinator

The Area Coordinator is a citizen volunteer position. The Coordinator responsibilities include:

  • Serve as liaison between members, law enforcement, civic groups and block captain
  • Arrange neighborhood crime prevention training
  • Obtain and distribute crime prevention materials
  • Involve others in specific crime prevention projects

 Responsibilities: Block Captain

The Block Captain is also a citizen volunteer position. He or she:

  • Serves as spokesperson for the group
  • Organizes meetings
  • Maintains a list of participants
  • Arranges training programs
  • Designates work assignments
  • Distributes materials
  • Acts as liaison between group members and law enforcement

 Responsibilities: Watch Members

The last position we will look at is the watch member. Watch members are responsible for the following:

  • Attend meetings
  • Report suspicious or criminal activity
  • Help recruit new members
  • Practice safety measures at home and in community
  • Support captain and other leaders in their roles