With the economic downturn, the Wall Street Journal reports, there’s been a fresh boom across the U.S. in volunteer cadres of citizens taking on some of the routine duties of short-staffed police departments such as giving parking tickets. While many communities appreciate the help, friction has surfaced in some places, with residents using terms like “little Napoleon” and “gung-ho” to complain about the citizen patrollers and their tactics. The National Association of Citizens on Patrol in Corona, Ca. says there are about 5,000 citizen patrol units working alongside police departments in the U.S., up 25 percent from 2008.
George Coleman, 70, head of the 60-member Crime Watch in Wareham, Ma., says, “We got so doggone many enemies.” This summer, its members wrote 600 $30 tickets, a huge jump from years past, nailing drivers for everything for staying too long in one spot to parking too far from the curb. “They cry, throw things at you and call you everything, thinking it will get them out of a ticket,” he chuckles. “It does not.”