On Friday, April 25, the five local community patrols in the 49th Precinct gathered and went out into Pelham Gardens, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway and Van Nest to send a message of the diligence of watchful citizens.
The caravan of patrol cars left Esplanade Avenue and Pelham Parkway at about 8:15 p.m. and traveled down Astor Avenue, before making its way towards Bronx Park, and then the communities on the other side of the parkway.
The first run of the united patrols will not be a regular happening in the northeast Bronx, but rather a way to learn about nearby communities as well as prepare a united force in the case of an emergency.
The event was arranged by 49th Precinct Council President Joe Thompson, who recently organized a community march against crime in Van Nest with Zena Twyman.
“Everyone is on the same page here,” he said. “We all want the same thing; a safer community for all.”
Giving the police an extra set of eyes and ears, the patrols serve as a neighborhood watch by dedicated volunteers.
Rob LaPietro, head of the Morris Park patrol, feels the police need all the help they can get, as red tape can get in the way of making convictions.
“The police are already short staffed and they need to be lawyers before they act,” LaPietro contends.
Thompson and LaPietro both cited the benefits of neighborhood watches in being able to collect information and be able to testify in court as a respected witness.
While the patrols serve a different purpose than policing, Thompson saw the benefit of a united community force that could take on unique roles in emergencies and crises.
“You might have a situation where there’s a huge problem, such as terrorism, and all police are called to one area,” Thompson explained. “Certain neighborhoods may be more prone to unlawful acts, we could mobilize our troops and see to those areas.”
In the case of a major tactical situation, Thompson feels that the patrols can bond together as they did Friday and look after the neighborhood.
“After you get the troops going, you want to have a plan C,” said Thompson.
The event was also seen as a way to drum up interest in the community and find new members for the various patrols.
“People hate to be victims, they hate to be powerless,” said Thompson, offering that the patrols give an opportunity to take positive, aggressive steps against problems in the neighborhood.
He added, “It’s an opportunity to do something other than talk, and just sit back and wait for someone else to get the job done.”
©2008 Community News Group