Safer Streets 101: Civilian patrols growing

Safer Streets 101: Civilian patrols growing

Safer Streets 101: Civilian patrols growing

Written by John Longenecker

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports progress on the preparedness front. Volunteer 5.0: Civilian patrols grow as recession puts citizens on guard. The Journal’s Jennifer Levitz turns in a very good report of watch groups and patrols around the country, with all their meaningful success stories and their hazards. To my way of thinking, it translates into safer streets.

The liberty purist contemplates many things, knowledgeable on the different facets of Independence. The main thinking process of the purist is that he is on his own, and loving it, the core message of a new book soon to be launched by Contrast Media Press from our own Examiner, Gerard Valentino. The Journal reports the increase in volunteerism in citizen patrols as an extension, or the next generation you might say, of Neighborhood Watch.

Neighborhood Watch is a proven community volunteerism aid to law enforcement, and has been a good model of the rapport between citizens and law enforcement. Having shown what it can do over the decades, it’s the natural premier spot to spin off more volunteerism into new areas of need. An adverse change in national conditions has prompted that sort of change in preparedness at the street level. Without a matching increase in assets of law enforcement soon likely, what with cutbacks, retirements and other influences, volunteers have been welcomed by law enforcement. And why not? Constituents and law enforcement are allies, and that includes gun owners.

The Journal adds that not everyone is pleased with this increased staffing. The complaints have come from neighbors who dislike being ticketed (yes, volunteers are authorized to write parking tickets) or some other enforcement action. There are reports of heavy-handed nudging and obnoxious remarks. Jennifer Levitz reports also some criminal resistance to the patrols doing their jobs.

I like the idea of volunteers staffing the citizen patrol units. I am inclined to appreciate even their assigned ticket writing authority because I understand the broken window theory of urban blight. An illegally parked vehicle or derelict truck is a broken window. A vacant house -- with many in some neighborhoods -- magnetizes criminal elements, and keeping an eye on them as the eyes and ears of police is most helpful.

Preparedness is a large subject, and it is mostly attitude and resolve. It is primarily accepting certain realities, building a personal knowledge base, anticipating specific likelihoods, and taking personal action in preparing for them. For some, it may be an emphasis on food and energy. For others, it is community alertness and teamwork. For others, being armed is a large part of their preparedness. Together, they all work for the community good not only in filling in for limited assets, but also on their own legal authority. This is important to a free people who are the sovereign: their pre-existing authority to act. There will likely be some bumps in the road as the volunteerism increases -- bumps such as those obnoxious remarks from some patrols to their citizens -- but these will be handled.

The National Association Of Citizens On Patrol is a Corona, California-based organization. They answered the Journal that their mission is to promote civilian volunteerism in law enforcement. They report 5,000 volunteer units in the U.S., up 25% from last year. We wish them the best. We wish all the organizations the best.

Citizen authority – distinguished from civilian oversight – is important for every generation to understand. For it to work, not only does it have to be taught and handed down, but it also has to be protected in this generation. It has to be intact from one generation to the next.

Cooperation — not competition — is most welcome. It’s always worked best this way.

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