On their website, the National Neighborhood Watch Institute (NNWI) stresses that citizens should only report crime, not try to stop it in action. They warn their readers: "Always remember that your responsibility is to report crime. Do not take any risks to prevent a crime or try to make an arrest. The responsibility for apprehending criminals belongs to the police/sheriff."
This policy of encouraging defenselessness among civilians is both unsafe and immoral.
Letting it happen
Police, no matter how hard they try, rarely reach a crime scene in time to stop it. The Bureau of Justice notes that in the case of violent crime, one third of those who call 911 will be waiting from 10 minutes to an hour for police to arrive.
This is a problem, since the average interaction between a criminal and a victim is over in 90 seconds.
The vast majority of the time, police won’t get to a crime scene until after it’s over.
A policy of waiting for them to arrive means a policy of letting crimes happen rather than acting to prevent them.
Not only is such a policy unsafe—it’s immoral. Imagine that you wake up to hear a mother next door screaming for help from an intruder. What do you do? Do you do nothing and call the cops; even knowing that by the time they get there the woman will have suffered irreversible trauma? Or do you step up to protect her? Most decent people would say you have a moral obligation to protect those around you. NNWI suggests you have an obligation not to.
Now, what if the criminal is a 6’10” gun-wielding thug and you know for a fact that getting involved will get you killed? In that case, no-one is suggesting that you intervene alone. But not all civilians are defenseless. What if you’re a veteran martial artist, if you have weapons training, if you have the skills and the means to stop a crime when it’s happening? NNWI tells you to stay put.
This system—wait, watch, report—has been the status quo for the past half-century. But if it ever worked, it no longer does. People are too decentralized. Crimes happen too fast. Police can’t react quickly enough. What’s needed is a paradigm shift. We need to take responsibility for each other. We need to stand up and defend ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities when crimes happen—not just hope police arrive after the fact.
People protecting people
In many ways, this paradigm shift is the embodiment of the neighborhood watch ideal. People join neighborhood watches because they want to be a force for good. They want to protect their friends and neighbors.
That’s why we built Peacekeeper.
Peacekeeper is about empowering individuals to protect themselves and those around them. We suggest that if you see an assault happening, and you believe that you can stop it, that you do so. Use the Peacekeeper app to alert your Alliance and go help.
It’s not about “taking the law into your own hands”. It’s about standing up for the people you care about. It’s about giving you the tools, from training to your Peacekeeper Tribe, to stop crimes rather than just report them.
We see this as a vital distinction. For crime victims, the trauma involved can be immense. The mom who’s raped in her home will live with that for the rest of her life, and so will her children. That trauma won’t be erased by after-the-fact reporting to the police. But it might just be helped if a Good Samaritan steps up to help her, fights off the bad guy, and prevents the rape in the first place.
Two Types of Communities
Ultimately, Peacekeeper and NNWI cultivate two different types of communities.
NNWI encourages citizens to watch, report and virtually act as a snitch for law enforcement, but never take real action on their own. Their signs, with slogans like, “All suspicious activities are immediately reported to our police department” almost promise criminals that they have about 10 minutes to do whatever they please before police show up to stop them.
It also tells community members that they are continually being watched.
NNWI promotes a policy of inaction. Never should civilians be trusted to take matters into their own hands. They must rely entirely on the police, and let crimes happen rather than stand up to evil themselves. Such a community is not only vaguely creepy—it’s also unsafe.
Peacekeeper, on the other hand, encourages the best in people. If you see a crime in action, feel free to report it to the police. But we also give you the tools and the resources to be a Good Samaritan and protect the people around you.
Such an attitude breeds openness and self-reliance. It fosters communities where people know their neighbors; where neighbors can be relied on, not to spy, but to help.
Peacekeeper recognizes the human decency that shines in most people. Rather than tamp that down, we encourage it.
For many years, NNWI has been the only game in town for those who aspire to protect their communities. As such, they’ve funneled many heroic and vigilant defenders into their organization. But that’s now changing.
More people than ever are waking up to the fact that our current system—report, rely on the authorities, don’t defend those around you—is not offering what it has promised.
Peacekeeper embodies the noblest ideals of a neighborhood watch—people should look out for each other. We provide the app, as well as tools, networks and relationships to empower individuals to protect each other. If you want to become a force for good in your community, introduce Peacekeeper to your neighborhood watch.