Neighborhood Watch Programs Thrive in Chula Vista

A neighborhood watch sign in a neighborhood.

Chula Vista has been ranked as one of the safest cities in The United States, according to a
2022 report from WalletHub. Chula Vista is known for its tight-knit communities and
strong local police department. A large part of our success, safety wise, are the
neighborhood watch programs which bring residents together while promoting safety

Chula Vista Police Department Officer Sarah Camacho is the advising officer for all
neighborhood watch programs in the city. Under Officer Camacho’s leadership, there are
currently 30 active neighborhood watch programs in west and east Chula Vista.

“The purpose of the neighborhood watch programs is to reduce the levels of fear and
crime in our neighborhoods,” said Camacho. “We teach residents how to protect
themselves, their property and most importantly-their family.”

Two of the most active neighborhood watch programs in the city are in the Brentwood
Mobile Home Park in west Chula Vista and Rolling Hills Ranch in the Eastlake area.

In most of the active neighborhood watch programs around the city, neighbors stay
connected to their blocks through alerts, group chats, meetings and social media (such as
popular neighborhood apps Nextdoor and Townsquare). Program leaders notice that
many residents say the networking apps help reassure the feeling of safety. Camacho says
the level of activity each neighborhood watch has is completely up to the residents, and
there is no cost to start a group.

“Police educate on what is an emergency and a non-emergency issue,” said Camacho.
“One of our goals is to educate citizens about how to approach a variety of situations that
may arise.”

Camacho says the Chula Vista Police Department has seen a rise in crime being reported
on the app Nextdoor, and while she said this is great for community awareness, she also
warned that it decreases the rates of reported incidents with the police department. To be
considered active, a neighborhood watch program needs to hold at least one meeting per year. There is no cost to start a neighborhood watch and the time commitment is
completely up to the neighborhood.

While most neighborhood watch programs cover individual streets or a couple blocks at
most, there was a growing demand to broaden the zones covered in east Chula Vista. The
program organically grew and now serves the areas of Rolling Hills Ranch, San Miguel and
other parts of Eastlake. Camacho says the police department wants residents to take
pride in their neighborhoods, and getting to know your neighbors could potentially be life-

“One time, there was a family who was on vacation in Europe for a couple weeks. They
told their neighbors when they would be gone, so they knew to keep an eye on the house,”
said Camacho. “The neighbors noticed a moving truck, two men had the garage door open
and were taking things out of the house. The neighbors immediately contacted the family
to see if this was expected. The family said no, and the police were alerted immediately.”

Examples like this are one of the many benefits of neighborhood watch programs. Each
neighborhood watch program requires resident leaders to step up and collaboratively
organize the specific program. Grandfather-grandson duo Don and Tyler Miller are an
excellent example of community leadership and have committed much of their time to
upkeep the Rolling Hills Ranch neighborhood watch, which has grown to cover about
1,500 homes due to a growing demand for a watch group in the area. This neighborhood
watch covers different parts of Rolling Hills Ranch, San Miguel and Eastlake.

Rolling Hills Ranch neighborhood watch co-captain Tyler Miller is excited to see how the
group grows in the future.

“Being a captain for the neighborhood watch program creates joy for me,” said Miller. “I
love doing it and the connections that I have made through helping the community.”

If you would like more information on neighborhood watch programs, please contact
Chula Vista Police Department Officer Camacho, (619) 407-3586.