Residents patrol the streets with pistols in the Edgewood neighborhood near downtown New Haven, Ct., says the Christian Science Monitor. In an area of turn-of-the-century carriage houses with manicured lawns. every night since youths beat up a rabbi’s son three weeks ago, members of the new Edgewood Park Defense Patrol (EPDP) have been walking the streets at night. Roughly half of them have permits to carry concealed weapons and take a handgun on patrol. There’s nothing illegal about it, but the ratcheting up of a traditional neighborhood watch worries local officials and national experts. Citizens rarely have the training that police routinely receive to defuse volatile situations.
As budget woes and other priorities cause some localities to cut back neighborhood police patrols, advocates say that stepped-up citizen policing is an understandable response – although it’s a risky one with guns. After working with a variety of city officials and seeing no results, says resident Avi Hack, “at a certain point we felt the only way to put the pressure on the mayor to either dismiss the police chief or get the police chief to do his job, which he seems incapable or unwilling to do, and ensure our own security was to form EPDP.” Police Chief Francisco Ortiz, a staunch advocate of community policing, says he “wholeheartedly” supports the patrol, though he made a point of not supporting their decision to carry weapons. He says neighborhood police patrols were reduced largely due to funding cuts.