Community policing effort helps keep neighborhoods safe
In The Woodlands, knowing one's neighbors is not only considered an act of courtesy, but often considered a necessity that is tied to maintaining a safer community.
The Woodlands Watch, the community's 28-year-old neighborhood watch program, encourages residents to know their neighbors, have a symbiotic relationship with local law enforcement agencies and to prevent neighborhood crime by being vigilant, involved and aware.
The program is made up of residents, law enforcement and program specialists through The Woodlands Township. Together, these entities act as a community policing system wherein residents, in partnership with local law enforcement, keep an eye on their neighborhoods to detect abnormalities and to deter crime.
Woodlands Township Law Enforcement Director Marian Leck said The Woodlands Watch program is essential to residents as an awareness program and is a highly effective crime deterrent.
"The Woodlands is very good with community-oriented policing, and the police force could not and should not do it alone," Leck said. "Nobody decides or knows what belongs on your street better than you and your neighbors."
Leck said the program was established in 1984, after a study conducted by Rice University confirmed The Woodlands population was "an educated public" concerned with the safety of its community.
The idea of the program is to encourage neighbors to be aware of their neighborhood and surroundings and what is or is not normal behavior or activity.
Leck said there are four program specialists responsible for each of The Woodlands' eight villages. In recent years, programs, such as Senior Watch, Apartment Watch, Campus Watch and Vacation Watch, have all been added to the list of programs offered and covered by the watch.
Cochran's Crossing Village Association representative Gary Conwell said he feels the program encourages an open relationship between the township, residents and law enforcement. Conwell said many residents use Vacation Watch and like knowing they can call the law enforcement and request for a deputy to spend extra time patrolling the neighborhood while families are away.
He also said the crime prevention and Woodlands Watch-related events and meetings, such as National Night Out, Good Neighbor Days, Village Association and Watch Talk Wednesday meetings, are helpful and afford residents a better chance to understand the program and to become involved.
"Overall, neighborhoods where neighbors know neighbors are safer places to live," said Conwell.
How to get involved in The Woodlands Watch
- National Night Out
- Watch Talk Wednesdays
- Park Watch Meetings
- Good Neighbor Days
- Apartment Watch
- Senior Events
- Campus Watch
- Public Safety Student Awareness Program
- Woodlands Alert
The Woodlands Watch, 281-210-3800, www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov