The last two days I mentioned law enforcement in San Francisco. Today, I go back to that city once more to say something about the wonderful Castro Community on Patrol (CCOP), which is just over nine years old, and is doing some remarkable things for the folks in that city. They support more than forty community events and provide more than a thousand hours of volunteer time to the community each year. They are a wonderful model for neighborhood patrolling that I would love to see copied in other places.
Patrolling is at the heart of what they do, acting as the eyes and ears of the neighborhood. It's important to note that they don't get into physical altercations and they don't arrest people. When necessary, they call the police, or other emergency services. They also provide safety information, act as ambassadors with shoppers and tourists, distribute free safety whistles, and are a visible presence, helping to keep people confident of their safety.
Volunteers are always needed. Training is held regularly. Donations help too. Check out their website at http://www.castropatrol.org/ to find out more, and also to get ideas of how you might form a similar organization in your own community. Contact your local police department too if you are looking to set something up, as you should always work with their guidance and supervision. When we get together and go on patrol, we can really make a difference for the better!