Never form a Citizen Patrol without the approval by your local law enforcement agency. They must also provide the training. Do not do this without contacting them first.
An effective tool for some watch programs is a citizen patrol. It is up to your neighbors in conjunction with law enforcement to decide whether a patrol is needed. Citizen patrols are volunteers who walk or drive an area on a regular basis to report incidents and problems to the police and provide a visible presence that deters criminal activity. They have no policing powers, carry no weapons, are non-confrontational, and always coordinate activities with law enforcement. A citizen patrol can cover a neighborhood, an apartment lobby or complex, a business district, or a park; some use bicycles, in-line skates, or cars to cover larger areas. They contact the police dispatcher with cellular phones . Cameras or video equipment may be used to record suspicious activity.
Make sure your citizen patrol:
- Undergoes training using guidelines approved by your Police Department.
- Works in teams;
- Wears identifying clothing … t-shirts, caps, vests, jackets, reflective clothing, or patches;
- Never carries weapons of any kind — e.g. guns, black jack, mace, baseball bat, or knives;
- Never challenges anyone;
- Always carries a pad and pencil, and a flashlight if it is dark;
- Is courteous and helpful to residents of the area being patrolled: and
- Keeps logs and files reports with the local law enforcement agency.
Remember that citizen patrols can take on extra duties such as, identifying neighborhood nuisance concerns, monitoring graffiti sites, checking on home bound residents, and reporting abandoned vehicles.