Last week WCAX featured Stand Your Ground Vermont, a citizen gathering in Rutland to battle street crime, with the city police down three officers and the prosecutors complaining how their hands are tied. This is a very encouraging report. I hope it leads to a Rutland Guardian Angels group.
On their web site the Guardian Angels tell us that since 1979, the New York City based group has been responsible for creating hundreds of safety patrol chapters throughout the United States and worldwide. The 13 founders were dedicated volunteers who rode the subways to conduct safety patrol. For 37 years, thousands of people have joined the Guardian Angels and created chapters in over 130 cities in 13 countries to protect their communities and improve substantially the quality of life.
The Angels aren’t armed, but I have to assume they carry cell phones that can speed dial the police and emergency services and send pictures. They are eyes on the street deterrents to street crime and other civic disasters, like fires, road washouts, health emergencies and homelessness crises.
The key ingredient, of course, is the commitment and leadership of volunteer citizens to regain control of their streets from drug merchants and petty thieves, as well as providing real time information to police, public agencies and ambulance services.
A vigorous public spirit is essential to building civic confidence and optimism. Maybe Rutlanders can show other Vermonters how to do it.
The author is the founder and past president and vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute.