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Published: Wednesday, 1/2/2008

Sylvania Township's Citizen Patrol to be 'mobile block watch'

BY MIKE JONES
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
Sarah Toth, foreground, is in charge of helpers such as, from left, Kelly Spychalski, Diane Hieber, Paul Hamel and Lana Sweeney. Sarah Toth, foreground, is in charge of helpers such as, from left, Kelly Spychalski, Diane Hieber, Paul Hamel and Lana Sweeney.
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Sylvania Township this week will start a "mobile block watch" with the first class of the police department's Citizen Patrol, according to the police department's Sarah Toth.

The initial eight uniformed volunteers will be on their own for the first time, patrolling neighborhoods and commercial areas in the township and looking for suspicious behavior, serious traffic violations or anything else that should be called to the attention of the police.

Ms. Toth, head of the department's Citizen Police Academy and the patrol, said volunteers were told they are not to get into confrontational situations.

Although they have undergone training for their duties, she said, they are not police officers and aren't expected to do anything more than radio to the dispatchers that police should come to the scene.

"Their primary function is to observe and report,'' she said.

All of the volunteers are graduates of the township's Citizens' Police Academy and joined the academy alumni association.

Lana Sweeney, president of the alumni association and a member of the patrol, said there are about 30 active members of the alumni group.

Her interest, she said, came from being a new resident in the township, and thought the academy would be a good way to become familiar with her new community.

What she learned in the academy was interesting and caused her to continue her involvement in the department's activities.

She also noted that the patrol is a slightly more formalized service than what is already provided by alumni members who help police at civic events such as a Fourth of July celebration.



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