Watching the Neighborhood

By DR. ANN HOLLINGSWORTH,

Twenty years ago, I often saw Neighborhood Watch signs on streets in towns that I traveled through.  This program was started in 1972 through the National Sheriff’s Association as a program of crime prevention through neighborhood cohesiveness and collaboration – working together in conjunction with local law enforcement to improve their quality of life.  After it started, the responsibility was left to local communities and law enforcement agencies to create and maintain.

Today, I very rarely see these signs on streets of America and I wonder if this is a part of the America that President Trump wants to make “great again.”  People connect in cyberspace much more than in face to face collaboration.  Law Enforcement is too busy chasing down drug problems to be bothered with crimes in the neighborhood against every-day citizens.  Trust between people has declined to where “you don’t know who you can trust anymore.”  When a citizen does try to be proactive in crime prevention, he runs into the red tape of bureaucracy or good ole boy politics that protects the criminal over the law-abiding citizen.

The things that work in life almost always start from bottom-up instead of top-down.  Wal-Mart started with one man and one store – Sam Walton in Benton Arkansas.    Velcro started when a man who was hunting noticed the cockle-burs stuck on his pants and his dog’s fur and explored how they attached themselves.  There are public officials right here in Mississippi who beat the favored incumbents through house-to house, in-person visits to request the vote.  We call this grass-roots efforts and it is much like all of the elements of nature that begin with a root in the ground which then grows upward.

I am not sure we will ever get back to really looking after each other and taking care of what is important.  I think it has reached a place where Neighborhood Watch has become a “Myself Watch.”