In 1986, 130 of 1000 homes in Detroit’s Green Acres neighborhood were burglarized, prompting residents to take action.
A group of neighbors led by its first president, Sandi Kirksey, started the first citizen patrol of the area.
Thanks to the volunteers’ efforts, burglaries were down to only 39 in one year, a 70 percent reduction.
Thirty years later that number is down to only one or two a month. The patrol continues to make a difference in improving the quality of life and the safety and security of the northwest Detroit subdivision.
The neighbors patrol their community of architecturally-diverse homes bounded by Eight Mile to the north, Pembroke to the south, Livernois to the west and Woodward on the east.
Like all citizen patrols, they work with their local precinct — in this case the 12th Precinct. They serve as extra set of keen eyes, reporting suspicious activity and concerns to police.
Karen Brown, longtime resident and patroller since 2005, said most of the crimes they encounter involve motor vehicle larceny or property theft.
Patrollers work to educate neighbors on how to secure their belongings. Sometimes residents need to be reminded of basic tips like not leaving valuables in their cars, counsels Brown.
The group goes door to door several times a year to recruit volunteers. Keeping volunteers organized and engaged has been a big issue for local patrol groups, she said.
The Greenacres Woodward Civic Association rewards longtime patrollers with branded windbreakers and t-shirts and celebrates them at an annual association meeting, holiday party and picnic.
In addition to helping to reduce crime, the neighborhood patrol builds community spirit.
Brown said she has been able to meet many more of her neighbors since volunteering over the past 13 years.
The current patrol group president is Jim Ward.
“His positive attitude and leadership style really make a difference,” Brown said. His wife, Sheila, is also active with the patrol.
The 12th Precinct holds monthly community meetings at its headquarters, 1441 W. Seven Mile Rd., usually at 7 p.m. every first Thursday of the month.
The precinct commander typically attends, along with NPOs, (neighborhood police officers), to answer questions and update residents on neighborhood issues.
The NPO, Neighborhood Police Officer for the area actively engages with the patrol group as well. Four NPOs work out of the 12th Precinct.
The one who works with the Green Acres community is Michael Crowder.
“He attends community events and is responsive when residents approach him on issues” Brown said. For more info on the patrol and association, visit their website: greenacreswoodward.org.
Police support for neighborhoods: The Detroit Police Department reimburses neighborhood patrols for mileage and helps with equipment like car signs, and radios. The DPD contact is Myra Gracey, who can be reached at GRACEYM800@detroitmi.gov, to assist residents interested in starting their own radio patrols.