It's good to see the organizing of a community to deal with a pressing and insoluble problem. If the police can't do it, can't keep the community safe, then the citizens must take control. There's nothing intrinsicaly wrong with citizen patrols, armed or not.
Of course, if the citizen patrols misuse their power (as sometimes happens when people get power) then that will be another problem to solve.
Armed Patrol & Critics Find "Common Ground"
by Melissa Bailey | June 22, 2007
One week after denouncing the Edgewood neighborhood's new armed patrol as divisive and dangerous, black leaders stood side by side at the Whalley police substation Friday with Jewish leaders in the Edgewood neighborhood who have formed an armed patrol. The two sides remain apart on whether citizens should pack heat, and whether Police Chief Cisco Ortiz needs to be fired, but claimed they'd found "common ground."
Despite pressure from the city, the Guardian Angels, some neighbors and black leaders, organizer Eliezer Greer said the group's stance on gun-toting has not changed: Edgewood Park Defense Patrol is "reassessing" and "revaluating" its need for arms, but "at this point, it will remain an armed patrol."
"We are two groups of people who have come together under a common cause," said Bishop Theodore Brooks.
Minister Donald Morris (pictured above at left) said after meetings with the Greer family of the Orthodox Yeshiva of New Haven, the prime movers behind the new patrol, the two sides "have agreed that crime and violence is out of hand and that there must be a proactive approach to the problem by the New Haven police department."
Asked if he shares the Greers' opinion of Chief Ortiz -- the Greers have called for his removal -- Morris declined to side with his new allies. "Chief Ortiz can't be everywhere at once," said Morris. Responsibility for crime should be spread among the entire police force, the mayor and the chief, he said. Morris continued to denounce the use of armed patrols.
But after meeting with the Greers, Morris said "my heartfelt feeling from the meetings is that they really don't want to carry those guns -- that's why I'm here today."
Neighbor Todd Jokl (pictured), listening to the press conference with a bunch of neighbors, wasn't entirely satisfied with the talk.
"The dialogue is fantastic," said Jokl. But the citizens patrolling with guns "make me feel less secure."
Another neighbor jumped in: "What would the circumstances be for you to use the arms?"
Eliezer Greer responded the guns are a "preventive measure."
Gary Holder-Winfield pressed for a more direct answer. "When will you use the guns?" Guns aren't "preventive" unless you use them, he argued.
Eliezer Greer declined to offer a specific circumstance in which the patrol would use a gun. He referred only to a state statute allowing legal use of firearms in self-defense.
In effort to ease tension between Whalley/Edgewood/Beaver Hills neighbors and the armed patrol, a meeting between the two sides has been scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Whalley Avenue police substation.