A civic group dedicated to keeping streets safe and assisting their local precinct has activated its community patrol.
Community On Patrol, a recently founded non-profit organization that has been itching to start a volunteer patrol in the northeast Bronx for two years, recently hit the streets in Country Club, Throggs Neck, Spencer Estate and Locust Point.
According to Niko Kritikos, COP president and CEO, he and another volunteer have been out several times between the hours of 5 and 11 p.m. in a metallic orange Land Rover, beginning on Sunday, April 30.
COP also set up a hot line where people can call to report what they are seeing in terms of quality-of-life issues or crime at (347) 76-NYCOP, though Kritikos cautioned people to still call 911 first.
Patrols so far have been limited, stated Annie Boller, COP board member, and not all people who are a part of the organization will be a part of the patrol.
More than 20 people have expressed interest in volunteering, said Kritikos.
They have already responded to a serious car accident and a business burglary in which a perpetrator pushed in an air conditioner to gain access to an establishment, according to Kritikos.
The response so far to the volunteer effort has been heartwarming and supportive, he said.
“A lot of times when we are out patrolling, cars pass by and they honk or people give us a thumbs up,” said Kritikos, explaining that patrolling or simply being a good neighbor is more proactive than venting about quality-of-life on social media.
He said that the organization wants only to be the eyes and ears of the NYPD, adding “we are very pro police (and) we love police,” and they would be “crushed” if local authorities were not supportive.
Besides being a community watch on wheels, COP is part of a larger effort to foster a greater sense of cohesion among several distinct neighborhoods in the northeastern part of our borough.
Kritikos explained that after being called to a car accident on Country Club Road in which at least one of the cars was totaled, that members of his group worked with one of the people involved in the accident to help her pick up her medication and do her grocery shopping.
Additionally, at the business break-in they recently responded to, they entered the building to make sure the perpetrator had left and retrieved the owner’s purse, said Kritikos. They also stayed with the owner until cops arrived.
When the organization was being formed in 2015, they were going to be a part of an NYPD community patrol program, but subsequently 1 Police Plaza decided not to expand this program on a citywide basis due to potential liability issues, according to a previous Bronx Times article.
Kritikos, having himself been the victim of a hit and run and seeing first hand how he could of used help in apprehending a drunk driving suspect, decided to go it alone after a partner left the effort.
He now has a board of four others, and hopes to grow further, he said.
They purchased their own insurance and have car-door decals for volunteers who wish to use their personal vehicles, and recently joined the Throggs Neck Merchants Association, he said.
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