By Lori Croy, Crime Prevention Practitioner, and Andrew J. Scott III, Chief of Police, Boca Raton, Florida
acing an upswing in auto burglaries, the Boca Raton police department developed an innovative crime prevention strategy. The result was the I Prevent Crime campaign, which not only addressed auto burglaries but also encompassed a wider community crime prevention effort. By making a commitment to crime prevention and adopting simple crime prevention practices, Boca Raton’s citizens promote the philosophy that crime prevention and community welfare are the duties of all citizens in partnership with the police.
On March 3, 2005, the I Prevent Crime campaign was initiated. The mayor kicked off the campaign by signing a letter of commitment to crime prevention and then placing a blue band on his wrist with the words “I Prevent Crime.” On March 5 and 6, at the city’s biggest annual event, the Meet-Me-Downtown Festival, nearly 500 Boca Raton residents signed a letter of commitment to crime prevention, and proudly displayed their blue I Prevent Crime wristbands.
That was just the beginning of a campaign driven by a need to educate citizens about their role and responsibility to prevent crime. The idea of a unique wristband to signify the crime prevention commitment was inspired by Lance Armstrong’s popular Live Strong campaign. Excitement about the wristbands seems almost contagious, and they are being used to reach people of all ages with an infectious crime prevention message.
The critical educational component of the I Prevent Crime campaign is the Commitment to Crime Prevention letters. Four different age specific documents were developed to address citizens of all ages. Following are some of the commitments that must be made before someone can wear a wristband:
- Young children promise to learn their address and telephone number and to wear seatbelts and bike helmets.
- Older children promise not to give personal information about themselves on the computer and to report strangers in their neighborhood to an adult
- Teens promise not to use alcohol or drugs, to report crime at school, and not to shoplift.
- Adults promise to take precautions against identity theft, to lock homes and cars, and to join Neighborhood Watch.
Once completed, the adult I Prevent Crime commitment letters are forwarded to Citizens Crime Watch of Boca Raton for inclusion into the Neighborhood Watch database and e-mail network. By teaching citizens, even at a young age, how important it is to be proactive in crime prevention, police can help residents take responsibility for what occurs beyond their own yard.
How does this affect law enforcement? Every day officers document crime reports that indicate irresponsible acts by citizens that allow criminals to be successful. Negligence such as leaving purses and laptops visible in cars, leaving cars and homes unlocked, and leaving garage doors open contributes immensely to the high rates of residential and auto burglary that are a constant battle for law enforcement agencies everywhere. By making a commitment to adopt simple crime prevention practices, and by taking on the responsibility to prevent crime, the public can help reduce crime.
Since its inception, the I Prevent Crime campaign has spread throughout the county and state. The concept is presented at special events, churches, community meetings, Neighborhood Watch meetings, and in the shopping malls. Patrol officers carry a supply of I Prevent Crime commitment letters and blue wristbands in their patrol cars to sign up residents at various opportunities.
For more information about the I Prevent Crime campaign, call the Boca Raton Police Services Department Crime Prevention Unit at 561-347-3938, or send an e-mail message to Officer Lori Croy at (email@example.com) or Chief Andrew J. Scott at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
From The Police Chief, vol. 72, no. 9, September 2005. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.