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CALEA Update Magazine | Issue 103

The Neighborhood Watch Program - Recruiting "Eyes and Ears" for Your Agency

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In 2004, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office in Cumming, Georgia, began introducing a Neighborhood Watch program to communities and neighborhoods 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 an estimated 165,000 in 2008), demanded that the Sheriff’s Office seek help from the community. As these new residents and businesses streamed into the county, it became more difficult to have direct interaction with each member of the community. Understanding the vital need for community involvement and assistance in keeping Forsyth County safe, Sheriff Ted Paxton introduced Neighborhood Watch as a means of better communicating with citizens and encouraged every neighborhood and subdivision to become involved.

As part of the Sheriff’s Office’s Statistical Tracking and Resource Plan (S.T.A.R.), implemented in 2005, deputies assigned to the Crime Prevention Unit worked closely with Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office’s crime analyst, deputies, and investigators to gather information about crime prevention needs. Neighborhood Watch opened the door to the two-way communication vitally needed to prevent crime and keep neighborhoods safe. Every division of the Sheriff’s Office—Uniform Patrol, Criminal Investigations, and Special Operations—actively promotes and recruits neighborhoods for Neighborhood Watch. Beat deputies responding to calls for service talk with crime victims about the benefits of Neighborhood Watch. Crime prevention deputies read the reports filed and daily contact those complainants about getting their neighbors involved in this worthwhile program. Investigators canvassing neighborhoods speak with witnesses and promote the Neighborhood Watch.

Neighborhood Watch benefits both those neighborhoods involved and the Sheriff’s Office by opening lines of communication. At the three required certification meetings, deputies teach residents how to recognize and report suspicious activity while meeting and learning about their neighbors. Sheriff Paxton attends these meetings and openly and honestly answers citizen’s questions or concerns. Additionally, neighborhoods can have re-certification meetings at which deputies teach one of overy thirty topics, including Drug Awareness, Identity Theft, Stranger Danger, and Women’s Self Defense. Residents are also kept up to date on current crime trends and become additional “eyes and ears” for the Sheriff’s Office. Routinely, communication alerts are sent to residents to educate and prevent them from becoming victims of crime. Neighborhood Watch utilizes an effective calling tree that notifies participants of any criminal or suspicious activity in their neighborhood or the surrounding area. 

Just one of the numerous Neighborhood Watch success stories involves the citizens of The Vineyards subdivision. In March 2009, following a series of entering auto (theft from vehicle) incidents, a community alert was sent to all residents asking that they be on the lookout and immediately report any suspicious activity, and that they remove all valuables and lock their car doors. As a result, a few days later, when residents noticed a neighbor’s vehicle’s dome light on and a suspicious person in the neighborhood, they called 911. Several calls from various residents reporting updated locations of the suspect led Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Deputies right to him. He had, in fact, stolen items out of the car and was arrested.

Today, Forsyth County has 250 Neighborhood Watch certified subdivisions, with 275 projected by year’s end, allowing the Sheriff’s Office to communicate with over 45,000 residents. As a result of this increased participation from and communication with the citizens served, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office was the 2009 winner of the National Sheriff’s Association Neighborhood Watch Award of Excellence, recognizing it as one of the safest counties in North Georgia. The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has been CALEA Law Enforcement accredited since November 2003 and was designated a CALEA Flagship Agency at its last reaccreditation in November 2009.

For more information on Neighborhood Watch contact Deputy Courtney Beal Spriggs at or Sergeant Allan Frampton at

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office received the 2009 NSA’s Neighborhood Watch Award of Excellence. Pictured from left to right are: Mr. Dave Lewis, Bureau of Justice Assistance; Forsyth County Sergeant Allan Frampton; NSA Executive Director Aaron Kennard, Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton, Forsyth County Deputy Courtney Beal Spriggs, and NSA President Sheriff David Goad.


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