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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today Attorney General John Ashcroft kicks off a new expanded National Neighborhood Watch program. The Attorney General announced a grant of $1.9 million to the National Sheriff's Association to be used to work with communities around the country to double the number of National Neighborhood Watch programs over the next two years. This effort is a part of a national challenge issued by President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft to enhance local homeland security efforts and make preparedness a part of our daily lives.

As part of President Bush's new Citizen Corps, Neighborhood Watch will continue to reduce crime in neighborhoods nationwide by encouraging businesses, the faith community, schools and citizens to cooperate and assist local law enforcement. The National Sheriffs' Association has been instrumental in launching President Bush's new Citizen Corps initiative.

"Everyday citizens can assist local law enforcement by playing an active role in their communities and neighborhoods," said Attorney General Ashcroft. "Neighborhood Watch deters criminal activity and helps protect American families. Our children are safer, our homes are more secure, and our communities are stronger when Americans participate in community policing."

To encourage even more participation in the Neighborhood Watch program, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) has launched a Public Service Announcement (PSA), United for a Stronger America, in partnership with the Department of Justice, the Crime Prevention Coalition of America, and the Advertising Council. This public service advertising campaign will encourage citizens and local communities to initiate Neighborhood Watch programs.

The PSA campaign will suggest citizens call to get a Citizens' Preparedness Guide, which provides specific actions that individuals can take in their communities to reduce crime. A new component is being added to the current Neighborhood Watch program that provides counter-terrorism measures that citizens can use to join in the fight against terrorism. Outlined in the guide are five specific themes; protecting yourself and your family, protecting/comforting children, knowing and caring for neighbors, reporting crimes and suspicious activity, and emergency preparedness. The guide includes:

Citizens are encouraged to visit or call 1-800-WE-PREVENT for a free, United for a Stronger America: Citizens' Preparedness Guide.