Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Pioneer of Citizens on Patrol to meet Bush



By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MADISONVILLE - A life-long resident of this neighborhood who founded one of Cincinnati's first Citizens on Patrol groups gets to meet President Bush today.

Jerry Markley, who helped start the crime-prevention patrols in his neighborhood in 1997, will talk briefly with the president after Air Force One lands. Bush is coming to Cincinnati for a fund-raiser.

"I haven't been told much, just that I'm going to get to meet with him for a while," Markley said. "It's an honor."

Bush, who created the USA Freedom Corps office at the White House to foster volunteerism, often schedules meetings with local volunteers when he travels around the country. The Bush team got Markley's name from Officer Eric Franz, who oversees the department's 21 Citizens on Patrol groups.

Markley and his wife, Patricia, are examples of the kind of catalysts neighborhoods need to get residents motivated, Franz said.

"First of all, just their presence helps us out there,'' said Officer Jen Mitsch. "And if we tell them we're looking for a certain type of car or a certain description of a person, they'll call us when they see it. They know who hangs out in their neighborhood and what kinds of cars they drive.''

The patrol members carry police radios and cell phones as they walk their streets at night. They organize shifts and usually walk several nights a week.

One Saturday night in March, the Markleys and three other members got involved in a chase. They heard about a shooting on their radio, then saw the suspect's van buzz by them. They followed it until police caught up.

Madisonville's was one of the first such programs when the Markleys and others started it six years ago.

Today, there are Citizens On Patrol programs in 20 neighborhoods and another working in parks. The biggest are in Sayler Park, Westwood, College Hill, Madisonville and Mount Washington, Franz said. About 420 people are actively involved.

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E-mail jprendergast@enquirer.com




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