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Crime-patrol head talks expansion with CAC

'Block Watch on steroids' could extend into all of Clintonville

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Community Crime Patrol is "already in Clintonville a little bit," Executive Director Ellen L. Moore said last week at a meeting of the Clintonville Area Commission's safety and crime committee.

She then outlined the process whereby the nonprofit citizen patrol organization could be in Clintonville a whole lot more.

Jason Meek, the CAC's District 7 representative and chairman of the committee, said he asked Moore to provide residents with more information about Community Crime Patrol and the ways in which it might benefit the neighborhood.

Eric B. Richards, the new community liaison officer for Precinct 3, which includes Clintonville, also was introduced at the committee session.

The Community Crime Patrol, which trains and pays residents to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, originated in the University District in 1990 in response to a series of random assaults, said Moore. She has been with the organization for 21 years, the last 12 as executive director.

Ohio State University, the city and a state grant provided the initial funding, she said, and while the state grant has gone by the boards, United Way of Central Ohio also now supports the program.

Community Crime Patrol has an annual budget of around $1 million, Moore said, and currently has employees walking beats in the University District, the Hilltop, Franklinton, Merion Village, German Village, downtown, North Linden and part of the Northland area, as well as on bicycle trails and in parks.

"It's nothing more than extra eyes and ears for the Columbus Division of Police," she said. "It's basically Block Watch on steroids, is how I like to think of it.

"We're not there to get involved in a situation or put our hands on anyone."

The people on patrol carry communications equipment and can be in touch with police officers almost instantly, Moore said.

According to a fact sheet she provided at the meeting, random assaults have decreased in the University District as a result of the resident patrols. In addition, employees have been successful in helping to find missing children and adults, recover stolen cars, identify drunken drivers and in dealing with domestic violence situations.

More than 75 former Community Crime Patrol members are now employed by law enforcement agencies, 42 of them with the Columbus Division of Police, according to the fact sheet.

In addition to keeping an eye out for possible criminal activity, Moore said the patrollers report problems such as water-line breaks, streetlight outages and code violations -- and follow up if they aren't addressed fairly quickly.

Starting employees are paid $8.75 an hour, with compensation increasing based on experience and level of responsibility, Moore said.

"It's not much," she said.

The most-recent expansion of patrol areas took place about a year ago, when North Linden and the Northland area were added, Moore said.

The Community Crime Patrol's board of directors must sign off on any further additions of territory.

"It takes community interest, which obviously we have," Moore said, looking around at the 50 or so people gathered in the gymnasium at Beechwold Christian Church.

Expansion also requires a formal request from the community, generally in the form of an area commission, approval from the division of police and additional funding, Moore added.

"That's our process for how we expand," she said.

The University District patrol area reaches as far north as Weber Road, so a portion of Clintonville already is covered. The cost of adding the rest of the neighborhood would depend on how many nights employees go out on patrol -- anywhere from $50,000 for three nights a week to $100,000 for five, Moore said.

During a question-and-answer period, Moore said Community Crime Patrol officers work with existing and new Block Watch groups.

"We're a complement to Block Watches, never a replacement," she said.

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