Fresno Police say neighborhood watch disappeared in the late 90's. There simply wasn't a need once Citizens on Patrol took over. Now, they say, there's a big need. The volunteer and training coordinator, Sgt. Brenda Trobaugh, led the Wednesday evening program and said the most important message is that of safety. Residents need to know they're the eyes and ears for police, not the enforcers. About 25 people sat in on the training and asked questions about their dress code, and their roles as citizens.
Tower residents are concerned. A lot has happened in their district within the past few months. Bike theft, petty theft, home and vehicle break-ins. In September, there was a murder, and an officer was wounded. Social media has since helped tower residents come together. They created a page, titled "Please Help Stop Crime in the Tower District". They use the site to meet, organize, and warn one another about suspicious activity. The site helped them spread the word about Wednesday night's meeting at the Fresno Police Department.
Resident Bobby Embry said "we're trying to come together as neighbors and a neighborhood to fill the gap between what the police can't do and what we can do for ourselves". He took time out from his Master's Program to learn how to patrol his streets. Organizer Christy Orozco says "oh, we're absolutely motivated we're raring to go, to get out there. We've waited long enough. The next thing to do is start assigning shifts and getting out there".
Fresno Police say The Citizens on Patrol, which focuses on patrolling larger areas and backing up the police department with simple tasks, volunteered about a million dollars in services last year. Sgt.Trobaugh says she's inspired by the motivation in the Tower. "It's impressive. I really hope it catches on and we have more groups like this in more neighborhoods wanting to be a part of that".
Residents say there's still a lot of work to be done before they can hit the streets. They need to get reflective vests and flashlights, and create a meeting place.