Honolulu police call them the eyes and ears of the department, and they help make officers better.
Citizens patrol groups are trained members of the community. This type of law enforcement volunteer walks through the neighborhood and reports back to police about things officers might otherwise miss.
The Honolulu Police Department says it is always recruiting.
Different from a neighborhood watch, citizens patrols are trained through the department and are distinguished by their brightly colored shirts.
Mildred Chieko Toyama is 92 years old. Years ago, someone convinced her to join a citizens patrol.
“I see this group come in every, once a week walking around, so one of the guys said, ‘Mildred why don’t you join us?’ Okay, for exercise,” she admitted.
Toyama says it became more than exercise. She enjoyed helping the community.
“Do you think it keeps the community safe, doing what you do?” KHON2 asked.
“Yes, and we’re supposed to. Isn’t that right, officer?” replied Toyama as she looked at Sgt. Deric Valoroso with the Honolulu Police Department.
Valoroso supervises District 1’s Community Policing Team, which covers the downtown Honolulu area from Liliha Street to Punahou Street, and from Round Top Drive to Ala Moana beach. There are 51 citizens patrols in this district.
“They help us to deter simple things that seem to be growing lately, like any problem we have that we don’t have time to look at,” said Valoroso. “Not enough parking in the area, because people are parking illegally. They can report it to us. We research it and see what we can do about that.”
Valoroso says citizens patrols helped shed light on things like uneven sidewalks, broken lights, and abandoned vehicles in the neighborhood.
“Every district has a community policing team. Those are the people to contact to try and start one in your community,” explained Valoroso.
He says in District 1, most of the citizens patrols are made up of kupuna.
“It would be nice to have a younger view of what’s going on in the community. That generation views things differently than I do. They’re the ones living in the community. They are our future. They need to make changes and adjustments to their future by helping us out,” said Valoroso.
But he’s quick to point out that doesn’t make kupuna, like Mildred, any less helpful to the department.
“Join and have fun and see around what’s going around the place,” he said.Click here for more information on starting or joining a citizens patrol.