Lakeside citizens silently patrol

By Mike Biebl An abandoned car, a broken window, and graffiti. These are all problems that the Lakeside community has dealt with in the past. To combat these crimes, the citizens of Lakeside decided to create Citizens Patrol.

Founded in 2001, the group started small, but membership has steadily increased. Today, 35 members from the Lakeside community help patrol the streets at night.

According to the news story, “On Patrol,” Citizens Patrol is a city wide group that has over 180 members in nine different neighborhood groups. Other parts of the city have had very successful citizen patrol groups with the Lincoln Park group being an example of what residents truly can do.  Started over 10 years ago, the group now  has nearly 80 members and a permanent headquarters.

These groups help police across the city and make Duluth a safer city for everyone. View Lakeside's Citizen Patrol in a larger map

A typical night for the Lakeside Citizens Patrol involves driving around the neighborhood for several hours. Usually two members ride together from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Members look for anything that might be suspicious such as graffiti, doors left open, and garbage on the ground. While this may not sound like a thrilling evening of catching criminals, it serves its purpose. Crime rates have remained at levels prior to the group’s creation which is the group's ultimate goal.

Scott Abrahamson, a Lakeside resident for nearly his entire life, joined the group for the betterment of Lakeside. “I wanted to help my community in way possible,” he said. “It’s for a good cause.”

Abrahamson said the group’s goal is simple in nature. “We don’t have any uniforms or any signs for the sides of our vehicles. We just drive around and do our duty to the Lakeside community.”

A member since 2006, Bob Klein said that the Lakeside Citizens Patrol now have enough manpower to watch every night of the week. “It’s nice to know that our neighborhood is being watched.”

Klein said that the patrol members contact the local police department before every shift to see if they should be aware of anything out of the ordinary. “We try to work hand in hand with the local law enforcement.”

The officer stationed in Lakeside is Ann Padden. With numerous other responsibilities, night patrol is often difficult for her.  Bob points to this when citing the importance of the group. “She can’t do everything, and ultimately it is up to the residents of Lakeside to create a safe community to live in.”

After their shift is over, the patrol units talk with the Lakeside police and report on what they saw throughout their patrol shift.

If you are thinking of joining the group but don’t want to be put in a potentially dangerous situation, the group leaves all of these to the police. Klein said that if they see anything suspicious, a call to an officer is made or in very serious cases, 911 is dialed. The patrol group will remain in the area or follow the potential problem until the officer arrives on site.

Members have seen their fair share of interesting sites during the nine years of the patrol. Klein said that one time a member came upon a very scantily man sun bathing on Brighton Beach. The patrol unit had to ask the man to leave.

While the group has been in existence for over nine years, many residents of Lakeside have no idea that their neighborhood is being patrolled by more than just the local police force. 

“We need all the help we can get,” Klein said.

Members encourage others to join, but people hoping to join must first fill out an application. The application is then sent to a local member of the police department. If a person is accepted, they then meet with a person who is already involved in the program. They go over routes and provide information on what to watch out for. 

A continued community effort from not only the members of the Citizens Patrol, but every resident of Lakeside will help this quiet, open community keep its sterling reputation. With the help of everyone, the future of Lakeside is as bright as ever.

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