Citizens Seek Security Alternatives as Police Forces Downsize

Citizens Seek Security Alternatives as Police Forces Downsize

As cities across the U.S. face police shortages and violent crime rebounds, some communities have begun to police themselves through other means. 

One such watch group was created in a neighborhood in Milwaukee, Oregon and calls itself a “Glock Block.”KOIN News reports:

“We’re starting a new group,” said Coy Tolonen, who lives in unincorporated Clackamas County. “We don’t feel neighborhood watch is sufficient, and we don’t feel the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office is sufficient.”

Tolomon and a group of Jennings Lodge neighbors say they’re responding to escalating crime on their block by also making fliers that read “This is a Glock block. We don’t call 911.”

It’s mostly petty crime that neighbors are sick and tired of:  stolen lawn ornaments, vandalism.  But for neighbors like Tolonen, a breast-cancer survivor, that’s enough: “I will defend myself — and my home,” she told KOIN 6 News. 

Citizens of Detroit, a city that is about to default on a $2.5 billion debt to avoid bankruptcy, are trying a different approach. The Detroit police force, which has lost 25 percent of its strength over a four-year period, is attempting to bolster itself by placing unarmed volunteer citizens in a program that would have them patrol the city streets. The volunteers are given radios and matching T-shirts and act as extra eyes for officers who protect neighborhoods where robberies and other crimes frequently occur. 

Layoffs of local police officers in Oakland, California have forced residents to hire private security firms in the wealthy neighborhoods of Piedmont and Oakmore. 

Chris de Guzman, chief operating officer of the security company First Alarm, told The Christian Science Monitor, “With less law enforcement on the streets and more home crime or perception of home crime, people are wanting something to replace that need. That’s why they’re calling us and bringing companies like us aboard to provide that deterrent.”

Oakland is not the only city whose citizens are calling on private security firms, usually reserved for shopping malls or big events. Atlanta and Detroit residents are also recruiting these firms for protection.

While not a privately-funded solution, the crime wave in Chicago has become so overwhelming for police officers, firefighters in the Windy City are giving security to local public school children and walking students to and from school.

Photo: Jo Guldi/Flickr