Posted by Phil, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 14, 2006 at 3:27 pm
I'm all in favor of it, as long as its done wisely and responsibly. Here are my reasons:
People patrolling their own neighborhoods spend the most amount of time there, so they may be better able to spot people and cars that are out of place.
People who live in particular neighborhoods have a highly vested interest in keeping them safe and crime free, so they will likely demonstrate a high level of comittment and organization. They are not constrained by issues like overtime and record keeping.
Finally, there's a perception out there that police officers are actually Jedi knights. They are brave women and men who do a tough job and 99.9% of the time, do it well. Frankly, cruising around looking for out of place people and cars isn't rocket science. Why not free up police resources for more serious threats? From what I've read, the city isn't exactly spilling over excess money.
I do think there should be some limits. The activities of the neighborhood patrols should of course never involve any direct contact with suspicious persons. They should simply take notes and/or phone it into the police.
Having only recently moved here, its my newcomer's perspective that PA is easy pickings for a lot of burglers. Most people have 1 story homes, built on a slab just a few inches off the ground, and I'm sure many of those people leave their windows open for air. Additionally, many of the Eichler and Eichler-style homes have high fences which provides a tranquil private backyard, but also makes it easy for a thief to work on doors and windows without being seen.
Its unfortunate that some people haven't internalized that whole "stealing is wrong" thing, but what can you do? Hopefully some increased citizen awareness will reduce the attractiveness. We could also think about a PR campaign called "Rob Mountain View" which would encourage thieves to leave us alone, but prey on our neighbor city instead. Or, we could just stick with citizen patrols.