Neighborhood Guard Annual Meeting

It is time for Neighborhood Guards annual meeting. Member organizations have already been contacted directly by email and in some cases by phone.

Prospective members and other interested parties are welcome to the public meeting which is held on

Wednesday October 29 at 7:00pm
Sunrise Assisted Living
11889 Skyline Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619

Agenda

  • Wine & Cheese Reception
  • Call to order
  • Quorum Count
    • Introduction of Board Members
    • Review of Accomplishments
    • Chairman’s Report
    • Financial Report
    • Election
    • What’s coming up in 2015
  • Close of Meeting

Examples of current Hardware will be shown together with the unveiling of the new Weatherproof box for a more elegant and less intrusive installation.

Financial Aid program announcement

Image

At Neighborhood Guard we believe that a safe neighborhood is based on (and in) a safe community. No neighborhood is an island and the only way to stay safe is to make other neighborhoods safe as well. The little money we have collected from our activities has to be used for the best of our community.

Today it is our pleasure to announce the Neighborhood Guard financial aid program.

Maximum level of financial support

  1. No Enrollment Fee
  2. No Yearly membership fee
  3. 2/3 contribution towards Equipment purchase. e.g. for every dollar raised  Neighborhood Guard will contribute an additional 2 dollars towards Camera Equipment.

General Eligibility Requirements

  1. Complete member of local Neighborhood Watch/Crime Watch group (Exercises done, signs installed, roster created)
  2. >90% of neighborhood residents on neighborhood roster
  3. >50% households want to be part of Neighborhood Guard
  4. Not available for Merchant Watch groups
  5. Must be within reasonable distance from nearest Neighborhood Guard support
  6. Neighborhood must cover the yearly image storage cost.
  7. Financial aid is given on a first come first serve basis until funds are exhausted for the year.
  8. Final decision to award financial support lies with the Board of Neighborhood Guard, who also has the power to make exceptions.

The Eligibility and sliding Scale.

Eligibility will be based on the latest US Census Poverty Rate data. Specifically the percentage of residents with income below poverty level. When measures on on smallest possible neighborhood census area.

The neighborhood poverty level information of available from a number of sources online.

For example here is a web-site with the poverty data for Oakland. http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Oakland-California.html

Zoom in to your neighborhood and click to see the poverty rates.
Determining Poverty level of your neighborhood

Sliding Scale legend
NG = Neighborhood Guard Financial aid contribution
Member = Contribution of the member neighborhood group.

Financial Aid v1.0 Sliding Scale table

 

Neighborhood Guard Gets Local Hero Award

The entire board of Neighborhood Guard had been nominated to the Local Hero award in Oakland.

The award ceremony was on February 8th, 2014 and it was an honor to be among so many pillars of the community.

The award was given by Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf who is a frontrunner in the Mayor of Oakland election.

Neighborhood Guard chair Jesper “JJ” Jurcenoks accepted the award on behalf of the entire board.

Neighborhood Guard Chair Jesper "JJ" Jurcenoks thanks all the volunteers who helped make us a Local Hero

Neighborhood Guard Chair Jesper “JJ” Jurcenoks thanks all the volunteers who helped make us a Local Hero – with Oakland Mayor top Candidate Libby Schaaf  on the right.

To everyones surprise Nancy Skinner’s aide also presented Neighborhood Guard with a
California Legislature “Certificate of Recognition” for “you outstanding contributions, leadership and activism in our community.” signed by both Rob Bonta, Assemblymember, 18th Californian District, and Nancy Skinner, assemblymember, 15th Californian District

 

What do new Members get for the Enrollment fee?

FIRST: Neighborhood Guard is completely run by unpaid volunteers.

This includes:

  • The Organization does NOT have any staff (paid or unpaid)
  • The Organization does NOT have any Paid Officers or Boardmembers
  • The organization does NOT provide any benefits for the board members/Officers (Healthcare, Life insurance etc – we don’t do any of that)
  • The Non-profit does NOT pay for food or drink during Board meetings
  • NO services are purchased from Boardmembers, their family, friends,employers, or companies etc.
  • Board members cannot directly use organization funds to pay for organization expenses. Each board member must personally front the expenses and then will only get reimbursed if and when the expense is approved by the board.(This reduces potential abuse, not that we have had any)
  • Neighborhood Guard does NOT make political contributions

SECOND: All the money is used for Crime Prevention.

  • Financial Aid to underprivileged neighborhoods for participation in Neighborhood Guard – Feeling safe should not be dependant on financial resources.
    • Contact us for details on the financial aid program.
  • Recruiting and outreach – The more neighborhoods that participate in Neighborhood Guard the safer we all are.
    • Flyers
    • Business Cards
    • Snacks for potential members at recruiting events
    • Pens and printed signup sheets, clipboards
  • Training for new neighborhoods
    • Training equipment
      • Training Camera
      • Projector
      • Screen
      • Network equipment for Training Setup
    • Lunch for Members during all-day training
  • Software development
    • Development and installation tools
      • High Quality Network Tester
      • Development Raspberry Pi
    • Purchase of critical commercial software not available as open source (luckily we have not had to exercise this option yet)
    • Open Source development
      • Pizza and Red Bull for Hackathons.
  • Administrata
    • Insurance for non-profit Board members
    • Envelopes and stamps for postal forward
    • Internet domain and Web-site hosting.
    • State fees for incorporation as Non-profit
    • Federal filing Fees for 501(c)3 status

Priority in Distribution of Funds:

  1. Administrata – we cannot exist if we don’t pay our filing fees so this must come first.
  2. Financial Aid (Allocated in 2014: 25% of money after administrata)
  3. Recruiting/Training (Allocated in 2014: 25% of money after administrata, if we don’t use the money then it becomes available for Financial Aid)
  4. Commercial software (Allocated in 2014: 25% of money after administrata, If we don’t spend the money then it becomes available for Financial Aid and Training)
  5. Open Source software (Allocated in 2014: 25% of money after administrata, If we don’t spend the money then it becomes available for Financial Aid and Training)

THIRD: Unique Member benefits

  • Installation Support
    Volunteers from Neighborhoods already online with Neighborhood Guard will come and train you and will be by your side during the entire installation process, no matter how many times you have to re-adjust the infrared and night sensitivity to get it right.
  • Ongoing support
    Typically once the system runs it requires very little support – but we are here for you.
  • Easy Access to our New – Yet to be completely announced Raspberry Pi Project for buffering and upload.
  • Influence over new features developed in the Neighborhood Guard software
    So you want that automatic License plate Database? Become a member to make it happen.
  • Access to Members only online services – including:
    • Best Practices knowledge exchange
    • Data Exchange with other neighborhoods
    • [Planned] Online reporting of images directly to the police
    • [Planned] Crime statistics for Membership neighborhoods vs. non-members.

Community Security Cameras and Privacy

A typical concern in many neighborhoods is regarding privacy.

  1. We don’t want Police/FBI/Government to be able keep us under surveillance.
    • I escaped from suppressive regime to freedom loving USA, this feels like back under Stasi
  2. We don’t want Criminals to be able to use our cameras to stalking/see when we are vulnerable.
    • I don’t want my creepy neighbor know when I am home alone as most victims of rape are raped by someone they know.

Peeping

These concerns and every variation should be discussed before every neighborhood joins Neighborhood Guard. Some people wants to share the images with everybody and the only way to get an understanding about why that might not be the best solution is to openly discuss the concerns and find a level that everyone is comfortable with.

Here is Neighborhood Guards Guidelines to every neighborhood.

  1. Images are NEVER shared with Police/Feds/NSA automatically and indiscriminately – E.g. Never give your login and password to a police officer and tell them to just take what they need.
  2. Each neighborhood determines themselves what they want to share and with whom on a case by case decision.
  3. Only a select small trusted group of individuals (NG recommend 3-5) from each neighborhood review the images when a crime happens, this group is chosen and ratified by the entire neighborhood.
  4. A strict policy is written, shared, communicated AND followed on when and how images are disseminated.
  5. Cameras CANNOT be used to check what time teen/spouse came home.
  6. Images only retrieved when Crime or clearly suspicious activity happens and are never monitored except for system maintenance.
  7. Images are only shared with the police according to the agreed upon guidelines.
  8. All other transfer of images to government requires a court order

Sometimes there will still be that one individual in the neighborhood who is just against cameras no matter what you do. It happens in the best neighborhoods. Please don’t enforce your fees, views and regulations on that person.

Please gently tell them: “You are not required to participate, We believe so strongly in this idea that we are moving forward without you. If you are a victim of a crime the images will still be used for your benefit.”

Some people would rather just be let alone and I empathize fully with them.
The other day I got a somewhat paradoxical email from a shy neighbor asking: “How can I influence the decision on cameras without participating?”

The answer was easy:
====================
Thank you for your interest in and concern about crime prevention.

As a resident in our neighborhood there are no requirements for participating in our neighborhood crime prevention organization, there is no fee and no home ownership requirement. Most people participate by showing up to our meetings. Some participate through email and others again let their voice be heard through more active members whom they trust.
====================

 

City Camp Oakland for Activist Crime Fighters

City Camp Oakland for Activist Crime Fighters

Last year I attended City Camp Oakland at the City Hall, it was a buzzing day of concerned citizens, Volunteer Activists and city employees.

One of the Main themes are how can technology make our city better.

One of my experiences was on how city and county can make data available for citizens and how the citizens can use this data for things that had not been imagined before.

I would like to invite all members of Neighborhood Guard to join me for this year’s City Camp Oakland at the City Hall on this Saturday.

Please sign up here http://citycampoak.org/

This is your opportunity to share and improve your ideas on crime reduction, get access to crime stats in the right format and to press for access to list of wanted license plates.

This is where we recruit volunteer programmers for our cause.

Hoping to see many of you on Saturday.

Jesper Jurcenoks
neighborhood Guard

Enrollment Fee and Annual Fee

The enrollment fee to join Neighborhood Guard is based on the total number of households in your neighborhood not just the participating households. E.g. if your block has 88 households but only 48 participate in your security initiative then you would still sign up to Neighborhood Guard based on the 88 households.

Enrollment fee structure:

Households Enrollment Fee
Up to 10 $500
11 to 50 $1000
51 to 100 $1500
101 to 150 $2000
151 to 200 $2500
Each additional 50 households Additional $500

Enrollment fee includes the yearly fee per member organization for the rest of the calendar year in which the enrollment fee is paid. (It does not include the per camera fee) Continue reading

Gated Vs. Ungated Communities, Which is Safer?

When a violent crime happens in one of our neighborhoods, the response is often, let’s get a gate plus a fence and turn our block into a gated community.

Studies on Crime Rate : Gated vs Ungated

When 1,400 Florida homes were compared over a 4-year period in 2005, gated and ungated communities had nearly identical rates of burglaries and car theft. Only minor crime like smash-and-grab theft and vandalism was lower in gated communities. [Reference]

When comparing property crime victimization in Gated vs Ungated communities in 2012 on a national level, Criminologist Nicholas Branic found no significant influence in crime rate from being in a gated community.[Reference]

Even worse: In South Africa you increase the risk of both day-time and night-time burglary if you live in a gated community. [Reference]

Why no advantage found in these studies?

The following hypotheses have been proposed:

  1. Studies compare homes of similar value not taking into consideration that gated communities typically are located in high-crime neighborhoods and are compared to un-gated communities in lower crime neighborhoods,
  2. People in gated communities feel safe and therefore leave their door unlocked, don’t have a Neighborhood Watch group etc.
  3. Everyone knows the code to the gate! Careless residents give their gate code to everyone, from Pizza deliveries to cheap handymen rendering the gate useless.

Would gating my existing community reduce my risk of crime?

YES!, If our neighborhood recently has experienced a lot of crime, then you likely already have a Neighborhood Watch group (or even Neighborhood Guard group) in place, and will remain vigilant for years to come. This mitigates hypothesis 2 and 3.

But what about hypothesis 1?

In February of 2013 a comprehensive study taking a myriad of variables into account was published in Justice Quarterly, which shows that gating will reduce risk of burglaries, how much reduction is unclear. [Reference]

Is gating my existing community worth it?

HOA fees for building and Maintaining Fence and Gate system will be costly. City will likely require you to take over maintenance of your streets. There is the cost of decreased emergency personnel response times (Police, Fire, Ambulance), No study has been made showing if gating will be worth it.

Other more cost-effective alternatives to gating are available including the DIY Community Camera solution from Neighborhood Guard.

Joining Neighborhood Guard

  • Only organized neighborhoods can join Neighborhood Guard as members.
  • Individual persons are encouraged to volunteer in the organization.

Typical member organizations include:

  • Home Owners Associations (HOA)
  • Neighborhood Watch Groups
  • Other Crime prevention Groups such as:
    • Crime stoppers
    • Block Parents
    • Crime watch
    • Montclair Organized Neighborhoods. (MONs)

Signing up and getting started.

  1. Request a presentation using the “Presentation Page
  2. Setup your organization if needed
  3. Make a budget and collect the money Continue reading