Citizens on Patrol formed to help fight crime

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Birmingham Police Department is getting some help fighting crime through a program called COP. It stands for Citizens on Patrol. Anyone can volunteer to patrol the streets, looking for suspicious activity. If they see anything, they can notify police immediately.

"We're not asking the volunteers to be police officers," said Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper. "We're asking them to observe and report. That's one of the keys to preventing crime."

Citizens on Patrol will start with about 25 volunteers who will drive around in vehicles that have been donated by local car dealers to the Woodlawn Foundation. Operating the program will cost $94,000 the first two years. That includes everything from the cars to the uniforms to first aid kits.

"I'm 100% certain it's going to be successful and we'll replicate it in other areas of the city as well," Mike Goodrich, President of the Board of Directors for the Woodlawn Foundation, said.

Citizens on Patrol is modeled after COP Programs in Chelsea and Montgomery, which have seen successful since 1998.

"Probably the most important thing is the visibility of the appearance of law enforcement on a much higher level in the city has deterred things. We probably don't know how effective it's been," Jay German, who helped found the Chelsea COP Program, said.

Chief Roper says the goal is to start small in Woodlawn and then eventually grow the program to cover all of Birmingham.

"We're gonna go through the crawl, walk, run method. We're gonna crawl, walk then we'll be at a full spring then we're gonna take it throughout the city but it can't be successful without you," Roper said.

For more information about Citizens on Patrol you can call the Birmingham Police Department at 205-328-9311.

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