Though the group walking down Pequot Avenue may have been wearing bright yellow shirts with COP emblazoned on them, they aren’t police officers. They do, however, have training from the s Citizen Police Academy.
With a few new members strengthening their ranks, the group Citizens On Patrol, a part of the Neighborhood Alliance, took a stroll down Pequot Ave. early Monday evening. John Maynard, the group’s co-founder and a former deputy mayor, said the itinerary called for them to eventually turn up a side street, return along Montauk Ave., and spend about a half-hour at the walk’s starting point at .
Maynard said the group greets people along the way and in general serves as a positive presence. He said the area’s neighborhood group expressed some concern about activities occurring in the early evening, and so Citizens On Patrol chose that time to make the trek. They have made patrols at all hours, matching them to the time of neighborhood complaints. , they teamed up with New London Anti-Violence for a walk to demonstrate community solidarity and remember 25-year-old murder victim Matthew Chew.
“It’s really about cleaning the streets up. You’ve got a few people in New London who make it look bad,” he said. “[Citizens On Patrol] is just a bunch of people who are concerned about New London keeping its good image, because it’s a great place to live.”
Maynard said the group is not meant to be confrontational, and the training in the Citizen Police Academy reinforces this idea. The course discusses probable cause, evidence collection, warrants, and other aspects of law enforcement as well as the various duties of the city police, such as narcotics, anti-violence efforts, and K-9 work.
New London resident Elaine Statler said she got interested in Citizens On Patrol through the academy.
“It’s a really wonderful way to walk and see the city and meet people,” she said.
Marilyn Turner, a Montville resident who grew up in New London, said her father was involved with the New London Police Department auxiliary and that she had always wanted to do something with the department.
“The academy kind of made you want to do this afterward to show your appreciation,” she said.
Carl Lee, the other co-founder of Citizens On Patrol, said the organization began in 1998. Though it used to advertise when it would be in a certain neighborhood, it has since stopped doing so.
“It’s better. Now no one knows we’re in the neighborhood until we’re there,” said Lee.