“In a rural community like this, we all know each other, and we’re all related.” I’m hoping that doesn’t mean what it seems to mean. ‘Cause Carol Dickson’s comment about the efficacy of her “virtual neighborhood watch” Facebook page for her little (i.e. huge) patch of southwest Oregon reflects a welcome new trend: citizens policing their own damn selves. Statists may call it vigilantism, but I call it a breath of fresh air. The AP tells the tale . . .
The sheriff’s department in a vast, rural corner of southwest Oregon has been reduced by budget cuts to three deputies on patrol eight hours a day, five days a week.
But people in this traditionally self-reliant section of timber country aren’t about to raise taxes to put more officers on the road. Instead, some folks in Josephine County, larger than the state of Rhode Island, are taking matters into their own hands — mounting flashing lights on their trucks and strapping pistols to their hips to guard communities themselves.
OK, so, back to that whole vigilante thing. After all, simply being legally responsible for their actions, unlike the police, isn’t enough. Nope. And to gin-up the appropriate level of outrage, the AP has to journey all the way to…where else? Mayor Bloomberg’s gun-free Big Apple.
Policing expert Dennis Kenney, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, says neighborhood watch efforts can be positive but turn into problems when volunteers “decide that instead of supplementing law enforcement, they are going to replace law enforcement. Then you cross potentially into vigilantism.”
Kenney said vigilantes tend to get “out of control — especially when people are armed.”
Except when they don’t.
Another CAC [Citizens Against Crime] Patrol member, Glenn Woodbury, an electrical supplies distributor, wears a .45-caliber automatic pistol in a shoulder holster when he goes out. He says he carries the weapon only for protection and that members of the patrol consider it their primary responsibility to gather information, such as a license plate number, that would allow deputies to make an arrest.
That said, the CAC could get out of control. You know; armed citizens could get out of control, like the Klan did after the civil war. Only gun control laws disarmed African Americans. In Oregon, not so much. In fact, not at all. Checks and balances people. Balance of power. It’s the American way.