OTR: Citizens on Patrol back from a hiatus

OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - The Citizens on Patrol program in a Cincinnati neighborhood has been on a hiatus – until now.

After weeks of training volunteers are using their eyes and ears to give the Cincinnati Police Department a hand in curbing crime in Over-The-Rhine, which was once ranked the most dangerous neighborhood in America.

For the last few years, a patrol through the historic neighborhood had fallen by the wayside; however, they have been welcomed back with open arms.

"It's a positive way of connecting with the community.  Our job isn't to hassle anybody, it's simply to keep it safe for everybody," said Michael Hogue, one of the OTR Citizens on Patrol members.

To accomplish this task, volunteers take note of everything going on. All suspicious activity like graffiti, drug activity, overgrown grass and abandoned cars are written up and reported to police.

"It's kind of like a mall cop.  The job is not to intervene.  It's to observe and report," added Hogue.

In addition to crime watching, volunteers attempt to beautify the neighborhood by picking up trash along their routes.

The activities done by the group has neighbors thankful that the group is back on their block.

"I'm glad that we have those type of people here that are in place, in the proper place, to do things to help the neighborhood," said Clarence Jones, who lives in Cincinnati.

"I was wondering when they were going to bring them back because they had been missing for a while.  It's good having them back," said James Brooks, a worker in OTR.

Their efforts are about much more than simply patrolling the blocks when they're out and about.

"We enjoy doing it.  We enjoy the interaction with our neighbors.  You get to know people a little bit better," said Hogue.

The group is out about twice a week, for a few hours at a time.  In total, they have a little more than a dozen members, who do all of their patrol work unarmed.

"Where you see them, you know you've got some help around the neighborhood with drug dealers and stuff.  They don't bother you as much.  They try to stay away from them like they stay away from the police, and that keeps them away from here," said James Brooks, who works in OTR.

OTR is not the only neighborhood with patrols.  The city's website says there are groups in 24 of the city's 52 neighborhoods.

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