My son Stuart recently informed me that he has enrolled as a police auxiliary in the town of Prescott, Arizona. As a member of Citizens on Patrol, he won’t be carrying a firearm or be writing tickets, but he will be patrolling neighborhoods and parks, providing assistance at accident scenes, checking in on empty homes while folks enjoy their vacation and the like. He and others will be freeing up police officers from the not so critical things and saving the city of Prescott valuable resources.
I wrote Stuart that it reminded me of an article I wrote in the summer of 2020 during the season of riots. At that time, my thoughts were as follows:
What can be done to change things? As I considered this question, two thoughts came to mind. First, I remembered my April 29,2020, post on “Gunfights and Posses.” The chief point of that little essay was that lawmen in frontier country were very dependent on the support of their fellow citizens. There was no large constabulary to protect citizens from the depredations of robber gangs. Instead, as necessary, the local sheriff would deputize a sufficient number of locals to stand up to the badmen. It usually worked.
Second, to buttress this memory from times past, today I heard a news report that some “Black Lives Matter” organizers are talking of establishing an armed militia in some cities to protect blacks from police. That news item gave me another thought.
Now, let me put these two thoughts together. Let us organize our citizens to defend themselves.
It has become increasingly apparent that no police department is equipped to stand up to rioting and looting of the magnitude that we are now experiencing. With few exceptions, National Guard units are not trained to deal with civil unrest. Regular army and marines should be employed only as a last resort. I believe the answer to our problem lies in enlisting civilians to protect themselves and their neighborhoods.
Residents of our large cities should be recruited into companies of police auxiliaries that could be called to serve in times of emergency. An auxiliary company would be centered in the neighborhood from which it was recruited. In black neighborhoods the company would be black led and composed primarily of black citizens. Police auxiliaries would not carry lethal weapons, but they could patrol and protect neighborhoods and businesses as needed. The regular police would continue to perform their regular functions. In addition, they would provide tactical instruction to the auxiliaries, and a specially trained police officer could be integrated into each auxiliary company for purposes of liaison.
I believe that many people would leap at the opportunity to serve their community in this way. I am ninety years old, and I would gladly step forward to do my part (if they would have me). I venture to say that my friends in our local senior center feel the same. I am convinced that citizens of color would also volunteer in large numbers. They are tired of seeing their neighborhoods trashed and businesses destroyed.
Have you heard of the Guardian Angels? This organization was founded in 1979 by Curtis Sliwa. The original purpose was to combat widespread violence and crime on the New York City subway system. Later it began patrolling streets and neighborhoods and providing crime prevention programs and workshops for schools and businesses. Its relationship with the regular law establishment was somewhat tenuous, but New York City mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg publicly supported the group. Guardian Angel chapters later spread to over 130 cities worldwide. Unfortunately, the organization never grew to the numbers needed to suppress riots of the magnitude we have seen recently. Curtis Sliwa, the founder, had his jaw broken when he confronted the looters last week, and his small cadre of supporters was overwhelmed.
Sliwa always hoped that his organization would get police support and expand to include more citizens. Perhaps we could do it along the lines that I outlined above.
Surely, we must do something.
I’m pleased that my son is doing something.