A neighborhood watch (also called a crime watch or nighborhood crime watch) is a citizens' organization devoted to crime and vandalismprevention within a neighborhood. It is not a vigilante organization, since members are expected not to directly intervene in possible criminal activity. Instead, neighborhood watch members are to stay alert to unusual activity and contact the authorities. It builds on the concept of a town watch from Colonial America.

The current American system of neighborhood watches began developing in the late 1960s as a response to therape and murder of Kitty Genovese inQueens, New York. People became outraged after reports that three dozen witnesses did nothing to save Genovese or to apprehend her killer. Some locals formed groups to watch over their neighborhoods and to look out for any suspicious activity in their areas. Shortly thereafter, the National Sheriffs' Association began a concerted effort in 1972 to revitalize the "watch group" effort nationwide.

Sheriff Jim Ruth has placed strong emphasis on forming community partnerships since he took office in 2010. One of his first initiatives was to appoint a full-time Neighborhood Watch coordinator. Lt. Doug Towne is now responsible for the program that has formed dozens of community partnerships since its inception.

Lt. Towne is available to help your community get started. He can be reached at 728-7330 or by email at dtowne@bradleyco.net. You can also send a message via the website contacts and it will be routed to Lt. Towne.

Members of a watch group receive no police powers but work with their local law enforcement agency to reduce criminal activity. The Bradley County Sheriff's Office assists with organizing neighborhoods, including providing helpful information on ways to make homes and the entire community safer. Members of the community are on constant watch for suspicious activity and report it immediately.

There are now a number of neighborhoods across the county that are active in Neighborhood Watch.