Originally published by USA TODAY in April 2016.
The Los Angeles Police Department unveiled earlier this month the city’s first volunteer citizen patrol with the hopes that the 15-person force will help officers crack down on property crimes including burglaries and home invasions. The pilot program will cover the San Fernando Valley area, but could expand to the entire city.
The volunteer force will use two patrol cars, labeled volunteer citizen patrol, which will be equipped with police lights. The group will not carry guns or enforce laws, but instead will use radios to report suspicious activity to the LAPD. Some members of the citizen patrol have military experience and one was a former sheriff’s dispatcher. No other members have a law enforcement background, according to a report.
The city has seen a slight decrease in property crimes since last year, but the rate of violent crime has gone up and is about 13.5% higher than it was at around the same time last year.