Citizens on Patrol & Make the Call Y'all
Captain Todd Baer has a vision to help make Lake Worth a safer place and it starts with every resident. Over the next year, he would like to grow the Sheriff’s volunteer program, Citizens on Patrol. While the program has existed a few neighborhoods, Baer envisions a city-wide effort. He would also like to educate all residents about “Making the Call” about suspicious behavior.
Citizens on Patrol
Citizens on Patrol or C.O.P is a large program in Palm Beach County, with over 2,500 volunteers. In the Lake Worth area, the number of volunteers ranges from 20-30 throughout the year. According to Baer, the goal is to double or triple that number.
Volunteers use a cell phone provided by the sheriff’s office to report any suspicious activity. The volunteers also use cars which are specifically dedicated to the program. Volunteers are trained to observe and report, but not get involved in any crime they witness.
“We provide the uniforms and the training. We would like to boost involvement. The more eyes we have out there for crime prevention, the safer the city will be.”
There are other purposes of C.O.P across the county, including an emergency search team for missing people and a team that directs traffic after a crash. In Lake Worth, however, the effort is focused on patrol.
The first step towards improving the program in Lake Worth is to recruit more volunteers. Both Baer and Captain Lindskoog from the Community Services Division have spoken at the NAPC, or Neighborhood Association President Council. The goal is to have at least two volunteers from each neighborhood in Lake Worth.
Make the Call, Y’all
Not all residents can make the time commitment to become a volunteer. In that case, Captain Baer said that the most important thing a person can do to keep their community safe is to call about any crimes or suspicious behavior that they witness.
In the case of emergency, residents should always call 911.
If it’s a non-emergency, call 561.688.3400 or 561.586.1611. The non-emergency number is for information about drunk drivers, suspicious persons, neighborhood issues, or anything else that may lead to a crime.
“Don’t confront them. Don’t tell them you called. Just be a good witness. When in doubt, call us,” advised Baer.
The important role that citizens can play in reporting crimes cannot be overestimated. According to Baer, residents understand their neighborhoods better than even an officer could, because they live there. Information like when a neighbor is out-of-town, or what car belongs in front of a house, can be critical to preventing a crime.
Captain Baer’s Advice for Staying Safe:
- Keep your property maintained. Keep bushes cut-back so that they’re not hiding spots.
- Keep your property well-lit. The more light, the safer. Be careful to avoid creating shadows.
- Always keep your doors, windows, and car locked. A lot of break-ins involve unlocked cars and houses.
- Never leave anything valuable out where it’s visible.
- Get a dog! A large dog is one of the best alarms you can have.
- Mark your property, like tools or bikes, with an identifiable number. Don’t use your social security number, but a driver’s license number can help prevent your bike or tool from being stolen, or help in recovering the item.