Masters Thesis

An Applied research study to determine whether the Bakersfield Police Department should continue to promote and implement Neighborhood Watch as one of its key crime prevention strategies to stop and reduce residential burglaries

Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program that several law enforcement agencies have implemented, which focuses on educating and informing the community on how to discourage, deter, and prevent several different property crimes from occurring, such as residential burglaries. As of 2012, the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) has implemented 669 Neighborhood Watch Programs in various neighborhoods throughout the City of Bakersfield, CA. Recently, due to an increase of reported residential burglaries, the Bakersfield Police Department recommended its citizens become part of a Neighborhood Watch Program in order to help prevent residential burglaries. However, the Bakersfield Police Department did not mention how and why Neighborhood Watch met the needs of the citizens of Bakersfield in assisting them in stopping or reducing residential burglaries nor did the police department provide any information about the effectiveness of their Neighborhood Watch Program. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to review the factors that increased the risk of residential burglaries, and how the components of Neighborhood Watch addressed these factors in order to evaluate what impact the Bakersfield Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch Program was having on residential burglaries to determine whether the Bakersfield Police Department should continue to promote and implement Neighborhood Watch as one of its key crime prevention strategies. By conducting both a literature review, and a non-experimental correlation study, which used quantitative data to conduct a linear regression analysis, this study was able to conclude there are several factors that increase the risk of residential burglaries, and, unfortunately, Neighborhood Watch did very little to reduce such risk factors. As a result, the Bakersfield Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch Program had no effect in reducing residential burglaries. This study is not suggesting Neighborhood Watch is not effective in stopping or reducing residential burglaries nor is this study recommending that the Bakersfield Police Department stop promoting or implementing Neighborhood Watch as a crime prevention strategy because in order to come to these conclusions several more studies of the Bakersfield Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch Program would be needed. However, based on these findings, this study makes the following recommendations. First, the Bakersfield Police Department should not promote Neighborhood Watch as a key crime prevention strategy that can stop or reduce residential burglaries, but instead, the Bakersfield Police Department should implement additional key crime prevention strategies that will assist the department in stopping and reducing residential burglaries. Second, the Bakersfield Police Department should conduct a program evaluation of its Neighborhood Watch Program to not only determine whether their Neighborhood Watch Program is being implemented according to the program model, but also, if their program is implementing the needed strategies to ensure the success of Neighborhood Watch. Part of the mission of the Bakersfield Police Department is to improve the safety and quality of life of its citizens, and part of the department’s goal is to provide for the safety and welfare of its citizens. Unfortunately, the increasing rate of residential burglaries occurring in the City of Bakersfield is a direct attack on the police department’s mission and goals. That is why it crucial for the Bakersfield Police Department to implement significant measures to stop and reduce residential burglaries to ensure the welfare of the citizens of Bakersfield.

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