Green Acres Neighborhood Patrol
Notes from February 20 DHNC meeting

"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
-- Edmund Burke                                                                                        

Jim Ward, the head of the Green Acres Radio Patrol, was the guest speaker at the February 20 Detroit Historic Neighborhoods Coalition meeting.  Below are our notes from the meeting so you can learn from one of the best citizen-run security efforts in the City.  I’ve tried to organize Jim’s comments and answers to attendees’ questions by topic.   Jim has also graciously provided many of the documents and forms used to start and manage the patrol.  If you’re interested in receiving them, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Jim is happy to speak to neighborhood organizations so if you’re interested, let us know and we’d be happy to provide your contact information to him.
  1. How and why was the patrol started:
    1. Covers 1000 homes in the community bordered by 8 Mile (North), Pembroke (South), Woodward (East), and Livernois (West)
    2. Neighborhood leaders benchmarked what other communities were doing well.
    3. Prior to the patrol, there were 130 home invasions and burglaries in a one-year period.
    4. In one year the number of incidents fell to 39
  1. How it works:
    1. Detroit city ordinance provides support for neighborhood organizations to establish and run radio patrols
    2. The patrol is separate from the block club, with its own by-laws, board, and meetings
    3. Neighborhood meeting once per month at the 12thprecinct police station, with the exception of July’s neighborhood picnic and a holiday party in December/January.  Serve pizza at 7:00 pm; meeting starts promptly at 7:30.
    4. City reimburses for some start-up and on-going costs through a budget line-item (~ $370,000 annually).  Includes gas, vehicle signs, phones, radios, batteries, jackets/sweatshirts, spotlights, some printing/paper and ink, etc.  Green Acres patrol members are 100% volunteer and sign a waiver so the money from the City goes into the patrol treasury to cover costs to run the patrol.  It takes approximately 45 days for the reimbursement to come through.
    5. Green Acres patrol process:
      1. Green Acres patrol rules of operation include:  no weapons and no alcohol or other intoxicants -- eyes and ears for the police ONLY.
      2. The City ordinance provides radios that patrollers use to call their base station to report a suspicious activity.  The base station would then call the police.  In the case of Green Acres, two people ride in a vehicle and use their cell phone to call the police directly.
      3. Person on patrol checks in with the precinct before starting their shift, handing in the completed form about who is patrolling.
      4. The patrol is organized by team leaders who work with patrol members to coordinate the coverage schedule for the eight separate patrols (one patrol for each evening seven days per week PLUS one day-time patrol that does coverage seven days a week)
      5. Each patrol member patrols one time per month for two to three hours, according to their availability.  Number of cars patrolling at any one time varies.
      6. They don’t use flashing lights (which would be provided by the City) on their patrol cars because it alerts criminals where the patrol is.  Some patrol members attach the magnetic sign to the car door or have it in the back window.
      7. The patrol may cover the entire neighborhood or be broken down into sectors, which is coordinated by the team leader.
      8. A report of who patrolled when and the results is provided to Jim.
    6. Calling procedures:
      1. Main contact may eventually be the police officer assigned specifically to your neighborhood 24x7.
      2. Non-emergency calling procedures - call to precinct shift supervisor has been cancelled/revised.  14-point plan has the new process.
      3. Work out the process with your precinct.
  1. Benefits:
    1. Crime reduction (can see the result
    2. Patrol members get to know their neighbors and build trust
    3. Recognize when something is out of the normal
    4. Annual recognition awards for achievements by patrol members (not monetary)
  1. Who joins and why:
    1. Concerned residents
    2. “Busy people” – they make commitments and keep them
  1. How to recruit people:
    1. Green Acres has a recruiting strategies committee. Each year they develop an annual recruitment plan.  In less than three years, 130 people joined the patrol.  Currently more than 100 are patrol members.
    2. Ask them to join individually versus asking for volunteers in a group environment
    3. Provide them right then with the application to join.
    4. Present information about the patrol at neighborhood block club meetings.
    5. “Welcome to Green Acres” brochure and the “Welcome Package” talk about the patrol
    6. Door-to-Door campaign -- Two to three times per year at 10:00 am on a Saturday, patrol members go house to house to recruit.  Leave a flyer if the person isn’t home.
    7. Articles in the community newsletter
    8. Recruit at community events -- radio patrol members have a table at the meeting, with information on the patrol, applications, and wear buttons saying “Ask me about the Green Acres Radio Patrol”:
      1. the annual block club meeting:
      2. Kids and Family Fun Day (summer picnic)
      3. Pumpkin Day – sell pumpkins at cost
      4. Annual holiday party
      5. Free jazz concert
  1. Training:   
    1. Team leaders train new patrol members and provides the patrol information packet
    2. Talk about target problem areas recognized by incident reports from residents
  1. Other information/tips:
    1. Contact the commander of your precinct (Capt. Roche for the 9th precinct) for information on how to leverage the City’s program and resources to start a patrol.
    2. Block club has asked all neighbors to fill out an incident report if ANYTHING happens in the neighborhood whether it was reported to the police or not.  The incident report was designed based on the information the DPD asked to be collected.  It is turned in by the resident as incidents occur (can give to a patrol member, mail it or drop it off at the precinct).  Police target the areas and times based on a high frequency incidents.  Incident report may be anonymous if resident fears retaliation.
    3. Driveway sensor sets off an alarm in the house when a car or person comes up your drive.
    4. Jim Ward may train your patrol, but the DPD is primary.
    5. Take pictures of suspicious activity with cell phone and text to police officer on duty for distribution.
    6. Set objectives and measure against them.