Crime Watch or Not?

There is a bit of interest in the neighborhood being expressed by North End residents for a Neighborhood Watch.

In the first instance, such an organization gives those who want to participate the opportunity to work with neighbors and the Boston Police Neighborhood Watch unit to communicate, work together and report incidents that are occurring.

What type of incidents are we referring to?

Public drunkenness. Drug abuse. Loud noise and roof deck parties. Inappropriate public behavior during the early morning hours of the new day. These are just a few of the occurrences that would nominally catch the attention of Neighborhood Watch participants.

On its face, this seems like a good idea. Why not do it, then?

First of all, the North End is arguably the safest and most crime free of all of Boston’s many neighborhoods.

The types of crimes and the larger numbers of them occurring elsewhere simply are not occurring here with any meaningful frequency.

Breaking and entering into automobiles – larceny of an automobile – is about the biggest ongoing crime happening here, that, and breaking and entering into apartments and homes.

Despite these, the North End’s crime rate is lower than that of any other neighborhood and so the question arises, what is to be gained from a neighborhood watch?

We suppose it isn’t what will be gained; rather, it will be more like having the advantage of hundreds more eyes open at all hours of the day and night acting almost as a surrogate police force.

And there’s the possible caveat about Neighborhood Watch.

The recent murder of a young black man in Florida by a Neighborhood Watch person alledgedly assaulted by the kid is an example of everything that can go wrong going wrong.

However, the proposed North End Neighborhood Watch is a communications program and not a vigilante outfit with residents shooting people committing crimes before the police arrive to take care of business.

In the end, we support the Neighborhood Watch because its overall possible benefits outweigh its obvious liabilities.

The residents of this neighborhood respect one another by and large.

It is quite often outsiders who come here to take advantage of a nice neighborhood.

If those people know they can’t get away from all the eyes watching out for the neighborhood, well, then the neighborhood benefits.

We favor the Neighborhood Watch and we trust it will be implemented the right way.