Sunday, December 24, 2000

Citizens help bolster security at mall

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLERAIN TOWNSHIP — More than two dozen graduates of the township's Citizens Police Academy have been on patrol at Northgate Mall this holiday season, on the lookout for suspicious activity.

        Organized by the Colerain Township Police Department, the Citizens on Patrol draws from among more than 85 residents who have been through the six classes of the police academy, where residents learn about the details of police work.

        The patrols at the mall have no law enforcement authority. But they carry cellular phones provided by Verizon Wireless and the Cellular Connection to stay in touch with mall security and a township police officer patrolling the streets.

        Police Officer Dan Meloy, who is coordinating the program, said alumni of the police academy approached the department with the idea, wanting to apply some of the things they learned about observation to actual situations.

        “They've been tremendous,” said Officer Meloy. “They're just providing eyes and ears, offering a presence to let people know. These are your residents, these are your neighbors.”

        The citizens patrol in groups of four, and they are identifiable with dark blue shirts or sweat shirts with the citizens police academy patch emblazoned on it.

        “It's nice just having the extra eyes and ears during this time of year,” said Cindy Morr, assistant general manager at the mall.

        “It's been a great service for the shoppers, and it involves the community,” she said.

        Officer Meloy said the patrols have been involved in tracking at least one person suspected of shoplifting, but the hidden benefit might be in what they accomplish in terms of deterrence.

        “I believe they are,” said Officer Meloy. “This time of the year security can get tied up at one end of the mall and the other end gets left open.”


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