Last night I took Mrs. Patterson out on the town for an early Valentine’s Day dinner. Mrs. Patterson knows how much of grump I can be when I see bozos in costumes hawking services on street corners.
(Seriously: Would you want to have your taxes done at place that employed costumed clowns?)
So we went to this fancy place that’s in the heart of downtown Indianapolis — an area that has lots of restaurants, clubs, and shopping. In fact, it was not too far from where yet another shooting recently occurred.
“The shooting killed 19-year-old Christopher Lindsey. 22-year-old Prince Bibbs is still at Wishard Hospital.”
Luckily we found a parking garage right across the street from our restaurant. This meant that I avoided the gauntlet of Guardian Angels that we ended up driving past on our way home. What, pray tell, are the Guardian Angels? Well you can read about the larger organization via the Indianapolis Chapter website.
“The Alliance of Guardian Angels, Inc., is an international volunteer patrol organization geared toward fighting neighborhood crime. It was founded in 1979 in New York City by Curtis Sliwa with only 13 members. Today, the Guardian Angels can be found in over 136 cities worldwide.”
The Angels were mostly clustered near Circle Center Mall. This mall has had issues with gang violence in the past and that’s where most families seem to concentrate. So we are stuck at a red light when Mrs. Patterson notices all these red berets chatting in clusters with families. “Who are those people?” said Mrs. Patterson. This led to poor Mrs. Patterson having to listen to my 2 minute opinion of the Angels.
First, has the organization done good? The answer is yes. Here’s a few recent examples:
Despite this, the Angels do have a checkered past. I remember reading news stories in the 80s about excessive use of force and lack of training. I’ve also heard them criticized for getting in the way of law enforcement operations. Many of these criticisms still follow them to this day.
Years ago, the Angels were considered vigilantes and were known to make citizen arrests. Some public officials opposed the group because of their tactics. But now the organization is just as much about educational outreach with kids and businesses as it is about crime deterrence, says Sheldon Rice, a 49-year-old Air Force veteran and ex-cop who looks to become a Guardian Angel if they set up in Columbia.
So what kind of training do these folks have?
Our members are not vigilantes. They must go through a screening process to include background checks and then must undergo an intense 3 month training course in self-defense, arrest procedures, and professionalism, patrolling, and physical fitness. Members carry NO WEAPONS, some carry handcuffs, and phones and video cameras are always present.
I can’t attest to the quality of the training, however, it says so on their website so it must be good. (that was sarcasm btw)
How is this group different from a neighborhood watch? Well, the latter generally stays out of law enforcement’s way and mostly calls in suspicious behavior. The Angels are purposely high profile and often physically touch what are presumed to be law breakers. Also note that Neighborhood Watch was organized and sanctioned by law enforcement.
In 1972 The National Sheriff’s Association organized the National Neighborhood Watch Program. This pilot program was funded by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration of the U.S. Department of Justice and was designed to enlist the participation of citizens with law enforcement to help reduce and prevent crime. Since then Neighborhood Watch has become one of the most effective means of fighting crime in our communities.
To be honest with you I consider the Guardian Angels to be comparable to other costumed crime fighters.
He leads the Rain City superheroes, a group of 10 fighters who do justice to the streets of Seattle U.S.. Red Dragon is a red robe and a wooden sword and Buster Doe covers his face with a scarf.
Or, perhaps, this is a better example of what the Guardian Angels are…
The ‘road angel’, who forms part of a safe-driving campaign, will wave and flap his wings at motorists traveling too fast.