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At a March 13 meeting at the Lafayette Hotel, the North Park Community Association sponsored a meeting at which the Stonewall Citizens' Patrol presented their plans to expand into the North Park area. The volunteer neighborhood-watch program has operated in Hillcrest for the past six years.

Don Mitchell, Stonewall's executive director, said another patrol car is necessary. They are already covering Hillcrest and University Heights, with occasional North Park patrols, using their one vehicle.

Mitchell said fundraising will be a challenge for both organizations. “Gas prices are really hurting us,” he said. Their office is “virtual,” so they have no rent payments.

Community Association president Nikki Berdy has contacted car dealers about a vehicle donation, but there are no bites yet. She said she will be contacting other dealers.

The meeting's purpose, beyond announcing the program, was to sign up patrol volunteers and fundraising helpers. About 50 people attended.

The need for the patrol in North Park arose with the increased number of bars. Public drunkenness, vandalism, fighting, and excessive noise are the usual incidents reported, according to Berdy.

Edwin Lohr, a volunteer with both organizations, talked about patrolling. “We carry no guns, and we don't pull anyone over,” he said. Volunteers rarely leave the patrol car. But Lohr said he likes to get out “occasionally, to go into the bars and introduce myself.”

Mitchell said “on a typical night we might call the SDPD once. We are more of a preventive, and we follow a hands-off policy.”

Volunteers get training from SDPD on procedures and policies and learn CPR. Patrol shifts last three hours, between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Stonewall Citizens' Patrol is not like a regular private security patrol where businesses pay a fee; there are no fees involved. The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and contributions come from citizens in the communities served (Hillcrest, University Heights, North Park).

Mitchell said their expenses are low: their patrol car is paid for and they pay $100 per month for insurance. Stonewall is an all-volunteer organization, so nobody gets paid, including Mitchell, who works full-time as a security officer at Father Joe's Villages. When not in use, the patrol car has free parking at the LGBT Center in Hillcrest.

With the expansion to North Park, Mitchell said he's shooting for a new budget of $5000 to $10,000 a year to pay for gas, upkeep, insurance, and a monthly payment for another patrol car (if they can't get one donated).

Stonewall was established in 2006, after six men were badly beaten after leaving the Pride festival in Hillcrest.

Info: stonewallcitizens.org, northparksd.org

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Comments

SanCarlosGuy March 16, 2012 @ 7:18 p.m.

Thanks for the article. I'm happy to see that this group of volunteers is getting some renewed interest and is expanding in to NP. I like the idea that they aren't vigilantes. Rather, extra eyes and ears that serve as a deterrent to street crimes. North Park is a great place to live, in part thanks to all the folks that volunteer to make it that way.

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dwbat March 16, 2012 @ 7:48 p.m.

Hopefully this all-volunteer neighborhood watch patrol idea will spread to neighborhoods in other cities. It's needed in this era of strapped city budgets.

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Founder March 19, 2012 @ 6:39 p.m.

Gee, what is wrong with this TWISTED picture?

The over serving bar and club owners are creating these problems and making BIG BUCKS doing it, while the residents get to spend their time and money chipping in to buy a vehicle so they can try to help the Police deal with something that is encouraged by our elected Leaders and Mayor!

Party SD, is now being marketed, so the enforcement "FIX" is in... How many DUI sweeps actually happen in NP per year?

What about fining these over serving BUSINESSES and if that doesn't do the trick, also make the Business Improvement District that enables these questionable Business's subject to the same type of lawsuits that absentee land lords are, when there are drug dealers doing their illegal businesses on the Landlord's property!

I hope the debates for the next STRONG MAYOR will include what each of them will do to make sure that San Diego is never again the worst City in the USA when it comes to DUI's (according to Insurance.com) TWO YEARS in a row!

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dwbat April 11, 2012 @ 3:31 p.m.

The lesson to be learned from the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case is that a proper neighborhood watch group is supposed to WATCH--not carry nor use guns. Such groups generally do NOT allow carrying of weapons. That is not their function. Stonewall does it right.

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