August 18, 2011

  

In Arlington Neighborhoods, “Citizens on Patrol” Are Watching

When a neighbor left her purse on the front seat of her car to enjoy a swim at the Randol Mill Family Aquatic Center, a citizen on patrol stopped her from becoming a crime victim.

She handed her neighbor some vehicle burglary prevention information.

“A lot of what we do is trying to inform our neighbors about crime prevention,” said Beverly Windsor, president of the Randol Mill Park West - Citizens on Patrol.

This north Arlington group patrols Randol Mill Park and the residential neighborhoods encompassing more than 300 homes.

Formed in 1999, this Citizens on Patrol group works closely with members of the Neighbors of Randol Mill Park to share important safety reminders.

Each year, they sponsor National Night Out activities. With a neighborhood e-mail alert system, members stay informed about trends in criminal activity.

“We are the tie that binds the neighborhood together,” Windsor said.

In Arlington, more neighborhoods like the Randol Mill Park West Citizens on Patrol are working together with the Arlington Police Department to address crime before it occurs. They are described as the additional “eyes and ears” that help to pinpoint criminal activity.

Crime Prevention Specialist Curtice Ervin says Arlington has more than 300 registered groups.

“Taking 9-1-1 calls for assistance is a reactive way of policing because in most cases the crime has already happened,” Ervin said. “Having hundreds of citizens showing a visible presence in their communities and providing daily feedback to their assigned Police Patrol personnel gives the Arlington Police Department an opportunity to provide service to our citizens in a pro-active fashion with the goal of removing the victim from the scenario completely.”

Citizens on Patrol members submit online reports about nonemergency situations and suspicious activity occurring in their neighborhoods. Information is passed on to patrol officers for investigation and often shared with other Citizens on Patrol groups for additional monitoring, Ervin said.

“These citizens are an effective way of cutting crime in neighborhoods as well as stopping crime before it happens,” he said.

Windsor says it is impossible for police officers to be everywhere all the time.

“Anything we can do to discourage criminal activity and show our appreciation and support for the police department is important to us,” she said.

Interested in starting a Citizens on Patrol? Members must be 18 years of age or older with the ability to pass a criminal background check. Training is required. The next new member orientation is coming Nov. 2 and Nov. 9. To learn more, visit www.ArlingtonPD.org.


 
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