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Neighborhood Watch: How are they vetted? Local law enforcement agencies explain the process

A neighborhood watch sign is posted in Prescott Valley warning potential criminals that they are being watched by those who live there. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

A neighborhood watch sign is posted in Prescott Valley warning potential criminals that they are being watched by those who live there. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

It’s no secret that the quad-city area is an extremely tight-knit community and the residents all take pride in making sure their neighborhoods are safe and sound from any sort of danger.

What better way to do so than by forming a trusty neighborhood watch group? These groups give residents the opportunity to make a collective plan on how to identify, report, deter and prepare for any suspicious activity in their respective neighborhood.

Most neighborhood watch groups also enlist the help of local law enforcement to fortify their efforts of ensuring safety around their area. Despite it not being necessary, partnerships with law enforcement often lead to groups becoming vetted, meaning the neighborhood’s municipality and its law enforcement officially recognize them as a designated group.

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This Prescott Valley neighborhood mailbox shows a warning sign to potential criminals that a camera is watching them 24 hours a day. Neighborhood watch programs working with local police will set up cameras to surveil the surrounding areas. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

But what exact steps do aspiring neighborhood watch groups need to take to become “vetted?”

It turns out, the Prescott (PPD) and Prescott Valley (PVPD) police departments have similar processes.

Lt. Jon Brambila of PPD and PIO Traces Gordon of PVPD both said their respective agencies have a community outreach coordinator who will work with neighborhoods that are interested in starting a group.

The community outreach coordinator will meet with leaders of the interested neighborhood to discuss what their needs are, conduct research to pinpoint the problems of that neighborhood and come up with a game plan of how they want to run their neighborhood watch.

Brambila said the application process would also start at that time. He added that this process is a part of a national program with National Night Out, Neighborhood Watch and Block Watch.

“We utilize the tools that are available through those programs as well, which includes a vetting process and an application of who is going to be the block watch captain and what their role is going to be,” Brambila said. “We would sit down with them and then go over the stipulations of what their responsibilities are and how we can work with them and not just basically give them a designation and let them do what they feel they need to do. We work with them to guide them on those types of things.”

Neighborhood watch groups can also contact and partner with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) as they offer similar, if not, the same types of services PPD and PVPD do.

“Anyone can start a neighborhood watch, and some have no law enforcement association. Groups gather to discuss crime issues as HOAs, neighborhood vacation watches, area coordinating councils, etc.,” said YCSO Public Affairs Supervisor Dwight D’Evelyn. “Those that partner with us have access to our crime prevention officer and certain resources. We partake in the process if requested by the group or help form a new group.”

Chino Valley Police Department (CVPD) Lt. Randy Chapman said the agency doesn’t have the personnel or resources to have a developed neighborhood watch process like its counterparts in the quad-city area.

Chapman said that if a neighborhood is interested in setting up a group, they can contact CVPD, which will help guide the group on how to establish themselves and provide them with neighborhood watch signs.

However, since CVPD does not have a public outreach coordinator on staff to actively work with the group, this allows the group to operate however it chooses.

This means the group is never required to go through a “vetting” or application process. Still, Chapman added that a neighborhood watch group is allowed to seek advice or request a service from CVPD at any point in time.

For more information on how to set up a neighborhood watch group, contact PPD at 928-777-1900, PVPD at 928-772-9261, CVPD at 928-636-4223 or YCSO at 928-771-3260.

Aaron Valdez is a reporter for Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @Valaaron_94. Email avaldez@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.

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