Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Take back neighborhoods

Bush visit: Anti-crime volunteer

Jerry Markley, 65, of Madisonville, founded the citizens on patrol in Madisonville in 1997 and he and his wife have remained active in the program, which works with the Cincinnati police.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
Tuesday, the president of the United States, on his way to an Indian Hill fund-raiser with Cincinnati's rich and powerful, met briefly with Madisonville's Jerry Markley, neighborhood volunteer and crime-deterrent.

Markley, 65, was thrilled at the honor, not so much for himself but for Citizens on Patrol which he helped found here in 1997. They have since spread to 20 neighborhoods. Cincinnati Police picked Markley to represent all the volunteers. Such occasions call for polite words and brief handshakes, but we hope not so brief that Mr. Bush wouldn't grasp that volunteers like Markley have become the measure of neighborhood backbone here. Long-time residents refused to surrender to drug thugs and have taken to patrolling several nights a week to become extra eyes and ears for the police. The patrols have become both inspiration and challenge to other neighborhoods. If you want to save your homes, don't just gripe; get involved.

Markley and others, years before George W. Bush called on the nation to volunteer, served on a citywide surveillance team for police. But when then-Councilman Phil Heimlich and Sgt. Randy Adams heard how Fort Worth cut its crime rate with thousands of "Code Blue" citizen patrollers, Markley was even more motivated: "We felt good about bringing surveillance closer to home and helping our own neighborhoods," he said.

The citizen teams and police can't praise each other enough. Drug dealers curse and threaten citizen patrols with their police radios and cell phones, but the teams, sometimes joined by officers, have helped close illegal bars, catch thieves and roust drug sellers and buyers who often come from the suburbs or Northern Kentucky. "The patrols are one of the greatest visual deterrents to visitors looking for drugs or prostitution," said Cincinnati Police Officer Eric Franz, who oversees the program.

The patrols work on the principle that there's strength and safety in numbers. To volunteer, call Officer Franz at 513-352-2989 or e-mail (eric.franz@rcc.org).

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