Estacada residents work toward Citizens on Patrol program
Two Estacada citizens are leading a project to increase safety in the city.
Noah Fleck and Taylor Hicks plan to start a Citizens on Patrol program, which will coordinate unarmed volunteers in reporting suspicious or illegal activity to police.
"This is an opportunity to legally communicate with law enforcement and other first responders to protect the city and make it better," said Hicks. "We want to actively give people in Estacada an opportunity outside of vigilantism."
Several communities in the region have instituted similar programs. In Corbett, a citizen patrol works with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, while the city of Gresham facilitates a Citizen Volunteers in Policing program.
Fleck and Hicks see the Estacada program as complementary to the law enforcement services in town.
"We want to work alongside police. We don't want to get in the way," Fleck said.
"It's a stop gap for the times that police aren't here," Hicks added. "It's important to have a group of people who are willing to help keep an eye out."
Fleck and Hicks have a background in this field. They've started a business called Fleck Security Company that works at events, including several organized by the city of Estacada.
A dedication to their hometown inspired their interest in the Citizens on Patrol program.
"The city is having issues with rising crime rates, and it's sad to see it going that way," Fleck said. "This is our home."
The pair has been working with the Sandy Police Department as they establish the program and plan to continue to work with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office once they take over Estacada law enforcement operations in October.
Hicks and Fleck are in the process of registering the group as a nonprofit organization, as well as recruiting volunteers. They hope to have patrols in place within several weeks.
They welcome those "committed to keeping our community safe" and are particularly interested in recruiting people with a background in law enforcement, military, emergency medical services or first responding.
Once the Citizens on Patrol program is in place, the city will be divided into zones for volunteers to patrol. Along with guard duties, they will also interact with community members.
When members of the Citizens on Patrol team come across suspicious activity, they will report it to law enforcement officials. Use of weapons and any physical interaction with with suspects will be prohibited.
"They can engage verbally, but it's very hands off. As a volunteer you can only do so much before becoming a vigilante," Hicks said.
Prior to beginning patrols, volunteers will be trained to the same standards as unarmed security professionals in Oregon. Topics will include understanding the laws, writing reports to police department standards and providing emergency medical assistance.
Patrols will be conducted on both foot and in vehicles. Additionally, if requested, the program will also be available for providing crosswalk duties within school zones, security duties during city events and to secure residences at the owner's request during a leave of absence.