Each year the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department o f Justice request nominations from the field to recognize the efforts put forth over the last 12 months and beyond by law enforcement agencies and citizens working to improve their communities. Nominations are reviewed by experts in the field and past award winners. Reviewers are looking at factors that assisted in the community reducing or preventing crime as a result of the programs use in the community.
NSA receives many nominations that tell unique and inspiring stories that have assisted public safety across the country. Just because a nomination might not have been chosen does not mean that USAonWatch will not feature the group or agency in a publication, newsletter, article, or refer them to another agency.
The awards program is just one way that NSA and the National Neighborhood Watch Program learn of success throughout the country. As you read below about our winners from last year we want to encourage you to take part in the 2010 Awards Program. Nominations will be taken till March 31, 2010.
The National Sheriffs’ Association in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department o f Justice presented the 5th Annual National Neighborhood Watch Awards of Excellence at the NSA Conference in Ft. Lauderdale this past June. Two law enforcement agencies and one neighborhood watch group were recognized for their extraordinary efforts to promote Neighborhood Watch in their community.
Excellence by a Sheriff’s Office
In 2004, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, GA began introducing Neighborhood Watch to the communities throughout the county. Historically, Forsyth County’s mostly rural population had very low crime rates. The daunting challenge of keeping crime rates low while faced with an exploding population (98,407 in 2000 to over 165,000 in 2005) demanded that the Sheriff’s Office seek help from the community. Every division for the Sheriff’s Office actively promotes and recruits neighborhoods for the program.
As part of the Sheriff’s Office’s Statistical Tracking and Resource Plan (S.T.A.R) implemented in 2005, crime prevention deputies worked closely with crime analysts, deputies, and investigators to gather information about the needs of the Forsyth County. Neighborhood Watch opened the door to the two-way communication vitally needed to prevent crime and keep neighborhoods safe. Initially, Forsyth County had 51 Neighborhood Watch groups. Currently, there are 225, with 240 projected by the end of this year.
Once a neighborhood completes the certification process, signs are placed at the entrance to the subdivision to let potential criminals know that this neighborhood has an active neighborhood watch program. FBI statistics show that a subdivision that has an active neighborhood watch is 43% less likely to become a target of criminal activity in the area. The Office utilizes a series of effective crime prevention presentations (Home & Personal Crime prevention, Child Abduction Prevention, Rape Prevention, Identity Theft, Child Identification/Fingerprinting, Child Stranger/Danger, Ladies Self Defense, Internet Safety for children etc.) residents are taught easily applied steps on how to protect themselves, their family, and their neighborhood from becoming victims of crime.
photo: Dave Lewis (BJA); Sheriff Ted Paxton(center); Sheriff David Goad (NSA President)
Excellence by a Police Department
The Bath Police Department is a progressive, full service law enforcement agency serving the City of Bath, Maine, a coastal community of about 10,000 residents located approximately 40 minutes north of Portland. The Bath Police Department Neighborhood Police Officer Program involves assigning individual officers to certain neighborhoods in which police and residents work closely to identify and address problems specific to their area. Neighborhood Police Officers (NPO’s) partner with citizens to conduct resident surveys, start a crime watch, hold neighborhood meetings, provide crime updates, and address resident concerns as they come up.
Since the inception of its community policing initiative, the BPD has seen some successes in the overall reduction of crime and calls for service. Over the past three years, there has been a significant drop in UCR Part 1 Index Crimes. Since 2000, there has been a 13.4 percent reduction in crime. During the same period, total calls for service decreased 16.7 percent. Specific reductions in crime and calls for service include a 25.9 percent reduction in disorderly conduct, 20.4 percent reduction in criminal mischief and 15.5 percent reduction in traffic complaints.
The addition of an officer has furthered the department’s community policing initiative by utilizing problem solving techniques. The addition of the officer allowed the department flexibility to assign officers to both the high school and middle school. Both of these schools are regional schools and include children bussed in from outlying communities. Each member of the patrol division is encouraged to look at reducing crimes or calls for service through problem solving efforts. This in turn has allowed the officers to work with the community members and organizations, thus fostering partnerships. The use of downtown footbeats, bicycle patrols and motorcycles has also helped increased community contact.
photo (L to R): Dave Lewis (BJA); Officer; Arron Kennard (NSA Excutive Dir); Chief Michael Field; Sheriff David Goad
Excellence by a Neighborhood Watch Group
The Menomonee Falls Neighborhood Watch, WI has made great strides in improving the Village of Menomonee Falls, educating and empowering the residents while assisting the Menomonee Falls Police Department. The group believes that safety and security start at home. Their mission is to work in partnership with the police department in a cooperative effort towards preventing crime in order to maintain the high quality of life.
The group began in 1986 with one neighborhood concerned about a series of thefts that were occurring. That one neighborhood has grown to 150 blocks including 4,500 if approximately 10,000 households. The NW group publishes a quarterly newsletter which includes crime prevention tips, letter from the chief, community events, and any other items of interest.
They meet six times a year with an average of 60 to 100 block captains in attendance. The meetings include “meet your police officer’ as a way to improve police/citizen relationships and foster in a collaborative effort for reducing crime. One of the many activities the group sponsors is helping elderly/disabled with yard work; collecting food for the local food pantry, making gift baskets for the Women’s Center and volunteering at numerous community events.
photo (L to R): Sheriff David Goad; Dave Lewis; Dennis Farrell (Prsident of MFNW); Aaron Kennard (NSA Excutive Dir)
Questions about the Awards Program?
What is the difference between the nominee and nominator?
The nominee is a group or agency that has utilized neighborhood watch as a focuses of their public safety efforts. The nominator for a group should be a law enforcement agency or a local government agency that has worked with the group directly. Agencies can be nominated by citizens, sheriffs, chief of police, and community participants.
Who is notified after the nominations have been reviewed?
All winners are notified and the nominators. Those not selected to receive awards will have letters sent only to the nominator only.
When are decisions made about the awards?
NSA does its best to have letters sent out by the beginning of May.
Can the essay be more that 500 words?
Yes, we understand if you need a few more words to explain what your program has done over the last year. However, please do not go over 3 pages.
Can we send newspaper articles, letter of support, and other documents?
Yes, you are welcome to submit letters of support from a Mayor, Sheriff, or other local official regarding the achievements of your program. However, please do not send more than 8 pages total. NSA will not send more than 8 pages to reviewers.
For more information and to submit a nomination please visit our Awards Of Excellence page.