Talk to your neighbors. See if there's interest in forming a Community
Watch Program in your area.
Talk to your Sheriff's Office Community Relations Officer (CRO)
(if you are outside the city limits) at (903) 590-2600 or use the online form found
on the Contact Us tab to request information.
Talk to your neighbors again. Tell them about the benefits of a
program and the problems to be addressed. Ask about convenient times and places
for the first meeting. Be sure to mention that Community Watch Program does not
require frequent meetings or personal risks, and ask that the Sheriff's Community
Relations Officer be invited to the first meeting to answer questions.
Planning the first meeting. Select a date, time, and place for
the first meeting. Invite the CRO. Meetings are usually held at a home, school,
church, or community center. Send out meeting announcements a few weeks ahead of
the date. You can distribute fliers, make phone calls, or send emails. Send out
reminders a few days before the meeting.
Prepare an agenda and sign-in sheet for the first meeting. Ask
the CRO to talk about the crime and disorder problems in your area, how to get crime
statistics and crime prevention information, and how the partnership with the Smith
County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) will work. The meeting should last about one hour.
Consider providing refreshments, e.g., cookies and coffee. The agenda should allow
time for questions, answers, and other topics.
The First meeting. The first meeting is critical in forming of
a group. All attendees should introduce themselves and sign a sheet with their names,
addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses so they can be contacted about future
meetings and activities. They should be assured that their personal information
will not be given to anyone without their permission. The CRO will talk about the
topics listed above and answer questions. Then the group should define the area
to be covered and select a Block Captain or Co-Captains.
The area covered by a group in a neighborhood with single-family homes can range
from several homes on one side of a street to several blocks with homes on both
sides of the streets. The area can also include neighborhood parks, canyons, etc.
The area covered in a neighborhood with apartment complexes can range from a single
complex to several complexes.
Initial duties of the Block Captain or Co-Captains might include:
- Compile a membership list
- Develop an area map with home addresses
- Collect money for Neighborhood Watch signs, and post and maintain the signs
Community Watch signs and sign hardware approved by the SCSO can
be obtained from
National Neighborhood Watch Institute
However, Community Watch groups are free to buy signs from any company and do not
need SCSO authorization to do so. The signs can be installed with permission on
private property or utility poles, with perforated metal tape on County street light
poles, or at least 7 feet above the grade level on County street signs. They cannot
be installed on any traffic control sign or County tree. After installation the
exposed bolt threads should be crimped to prevent theft of the sign.
Continuing duties of the Block Captain or Co-CaptainsAfter the
group is formed their duties will depend on their organizational skills and interests,
and the nature and objectives of the group. The following are some possibilities:
- Recruit new members
- Maintain a membership list and area map with home addresses
- Keep members informed about area crime and disorder
- Try to see group members frequently
- Establish and maintain a phone tree with home and work numbers that group members
can use to contact residents in an emergency
- Develop an area activity profile to help members recognize unusual or suspicious
activities in the area. This could include vehicle descriptions, work hours, school
hours for children, and scheduled services, e.g., gardening
- Act as a spokesperson for the group
- Serve as liaison with the SCSO
- Plan, announce, and facilitate meetings
- Organize crime prevention activities, e.g., watching homes when residents are away
Subsequent Meetings and Activities. Meetings of the whole group
should be held at least once a year. They can be held more often if there is information
to be distributed and discussed, a problem to address, or a special event to be
planned and held. The key to keeping a Community Watch group active is maintaining
interest over time and communicating with members.