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Neighborhood Watch by Bike

One thing remains irreplaceable in creating safer, healthier, happier communities:  People watching out for their neighbors!

In today’s world, many homes sit vacant while all family members are at work or school.  Few neighborhoods are like the world of yesterday, where eagle-eyed folks of the neighborhood would spread the news, often across backyard fences as they hung out their laundry, contacting police when appropriate too.  In many places, nearly everyone in the neighborhood knew about most neighborhood activity, for better or for worse!

How is neighborhood activity appropriately monitored today?

Police departments, of course, have patrol units that drive (or bike) through neighborhoods regularly.  Please thank these officers with a smile or wave when you see them, or contact the department to express appreciation.

To support that police presence, some neighborhoods have volunteers who are the eyes and ears of their neighborhood. The Salinas Police Department is among PDs that sponsor Neighborhood Watch programs, which are proven to reduce crime in an area!  Check out the Salinas PD Neighborhood Watch webpage to learn more.  [11/19/11 update: An excellent example of the effectiveness of neighbors looking out for their neighborhood appears in a Monterey County Herald front-page story, “Standoff forces lockdowns:  Neighbors help police nap suspects” and in the Salinas Californian, “3 Salinas schools locked down during police foot pursuit.”  Salinas Police Commander Dave Shaw was quoted in Griselda D. Ramirez’s Californian’s story, “… in these kinds of cases, when we actually catch the burglars, it’s almost always a neighbor that notices something and calls it in. The days of people minding their own business are over.”]

Beyond the crime prevention aspect, some Neighborhood Watch programs are community building organizations that also aim to facilitate stronger relationships among neighbors, resulting in more acts of kindness such as taking food to a sick neighbor, or to one with a new baby.  Others do projects such as park beautification, which depend on volunteerism today more than ever, due to municipal budget cuts.

This Salinas resident enjoys keeping an eye on the happenings in his neighborhood by bike.

In some neighborhoods, volunteers bicycle, walk, or drive an area on a regular basis to report incidents and problems to the police and to provide a visible presence that deters criminal activity.

A Neighborhood Watch Civilian Patrol is made up of volunteers who have no policing powers, carry no weapons, are non-confrontational, and always coordinate activities with law enforcement.

A Civilian Patrol can cover a neighborhood, an apartment lobby or complex, a business district, or a park. Cameras or video equipment may be used to record suspicious activity.

The Salinas Police Department’s Guideline for a Civilian Patrol requires a training course.  To learn more, or to consider taking the training to become a volunteer yourself, contact the  Salinas Police Community Services Unit  at (831) 758-7247 from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Related info on this site

Biking your own neighborhood, rural areas, and elsewhere

Remember that bicyclists can serve not only their own neighborhoods but other locations too by sharing with law enforcement anything they see along the bikeways that doesn’t look right! 

Cyclists in rural areas may spot suspicious activity, such as a possible theft of agriculture equipment in progress, or trespassers who could contaminate a field–which is no small matter! 

Having various local emergency numbers in your cell phone is not only helpful should you have a personal emergency, it makes it quick and easy for you to serve as a “neighborhood watch” person wherever you bike.

Share local bike info too

Consider keeping posters or mini-fliers with you to distribute to others. Sharing local bike info is another way you can help build a safer, healthier neighborhood and county.

  1. California bike laws in English and Spanish – download PDF: Leyes de ciclismo de CA – Laws for bicyclists in CA (Spanish, English) – Summary
  2. Be Cool, Be Safe – Bike Law Summary & Advocating for Biking
  3. Bicycling Monterey mini-fliers with HER Helmet Thursdays

This post was published on 12 November 2011. One or more changes last made to this post on 4 February 2020.

  1. mary davis says:

    great article and I will pass it on to people I know, including those who speak Spanish.
    mary davis

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