Neighbors are fed up with porch pirates making off with packages in broad daylight. Business owners are tired of graffiti repeatedly painted on their walls. And those once pristine vacant lots? Many are fast becoming dumping grounds. If this sounds familiar, it’s never too late to turn around your neighborhood. And one advocacy group is helping citizens come together to make their neighborhoods safer.
“Starting to restore a sense of order and lawfulness may be as simple as cleaning the sidewalk daily so litter doesn’t accumulate,” says former law enforcement officer Ed Hutchison, who founded the National Police Association (NPA), a fast-growing 501c3 nonprofit organization, in 2017. NPA is not a police union or fraternal organization. Rather, NPA uses advocacy and education to give private citizens ways to show their support for law enforcement. These include actions they can take on their own streets.
The NPA – which earned the 2019 Silver GuideStar Seal of Transparency – uses several tools to help neighborhoods and law enforcement work together to reclaim a sense of peace and security. “For example, a lot of police departments have public liaisons who go to schools and churches to talk about crime prevention. NPA provides master brochures that those departments can print for their own use, on such topics as cybercrime, identity theft and home security.”
The idea is taking off. Already, NPA has more than 60,000 Twitter followers and nearly as many Facebook followers. Several thousand people view the website daily. And donations exceeded $2 million last year, up from $100,000 in 2017.
Hutchison explains how everyday citizens can encourage more lawfulness in their communities:
- Follow a 9 p.m. routine. “If you park your car in the driveway at night, make life difficult for vandals and criminals by removing any valuables and making sure it’s locked. Then, go around the house and ensure all its doors and windows are locked. Double check your garage door to make sure it’s closed. And turn on the porch light.”
- Pay attention to what’s captured by your video doorbell or security camera. “Those cameras may catch a suspicious or unusual incident at a neighbor’s home. If you see it, report it. And be willing to share that video with police, if asked.”
- Don’t allow little things to escalate. “You may feel like something is too small and insignificant to report. But working together means preventing the little things from getting bigger. So, if you see a deteriorating building or litter accumulating, speak up. Contact the city code inspector, your mayor’s action center or the police department if it’s a police issue.”
- Back a youth program. “Many independent nonprofits coordinate with local police departments to run youth programs such as explorer programs and athletic leagues, with officers volunteering as instructors or coaches. Supporting those programs with your time and donations strengthens your local police department and enriches the lives of youth in your community.”
- Volunteer for your local law enforcement agency. “It’s now easier than ever to find out how. NPA maintains a YouTube page detailing available volunteer opportunities. They are also listed on the NPA’s website.
- Thank a police officer. “For many police officers, one of the most unexpected surprises is when someone approaches them to say thank you. Any show of public gratitude or respect is surprising and unbelievably impactful.”
“NPA is getting things done by gathering like-minded people across the nation,” says Hutchison. “We feel surrounded by good people, patriotism and a love for law enforcement,” he concludes.
Learn more about creating a stronger sense of community in your neighborhood and supporting law enforcement by going to www.NationalPolice.org.