Last Updated May 22, 2005

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Citizens on Patrol In Action


Who and What are 
Citizens on Patrol?

COP's on Patrol

Citizens On Patrol is a generic name used by many to describe a special group of Law Enforcement Volunteers. As the name implies, Citizens On Patrol are Citizens who, after being screened, background checked, and trained by their local law enforcement agency, patrol their communities acting as "Eyes and Ears" for law enforcement. Citizens On Patrol are also referred to as "Citizen Observer Patrols", "Community Action Patrols", "Police Auxiliary Citizens Team", "Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol", "Volunteers In Policing", "Volunteers On Patrol", as well as other names.

Citizen Patrol groups have been in use within the United States for over 20 years. The number of individual Citizen Patrol Volunteers within the United States is estimated to be over 75,000 with groups in every state of the nation. While no standard exists for what C.O.P. groups can or can not do, there are some common themes which are shared among most groups. In addition to wearing identifiable uniforms and driving in marked patrol cars, the most common thread is acting as "Eyes and Ears" for law enforcement.

By patrolling their community, on a regular basis, usually in 4-8 hour shifts, Citizen Patrol Volunteers become more familiar with their community and are better able to recognize "suspicious" activity and notify the authorities. Due to their focused patrol activity, it is not uncommon for C.O.P.ís to observe crimes in progress. C.O.P.ís do not take enforcement action, they only observe and report. Citizen Patrol Volunteers are not authorized to carry weapons and are encouraged to avoid physical contact. C.O.P.ís greatest weapon is their established bond with local law enforcement and their ability to communicate directly with them by radio or cellular phones using special dedicated phone numbers.

Other common duties performed by Citizen Patrol groups is traffic control at accident scenes, special events, crime scenes, fires, in addition to focused patrols in high crime areas for deterrence. By utilizing C.O.P. groups for such basic yet needed tasks, Police and Sheriffs are able to spend more time on patrol and focus on their primary mission. Another benefit to communities and law enforcement agencies is cost savings. It is not uncommon for an average size Citizen Patrol group of 50 members to provide a budget savings of several hundred thousand dollars a year by performing these duties. The funds saved can then be used to put more Officers and Deputies on the streets or purchase needed equipment. In addition to budget savings, it is not uncommon for active Citizen Patrol groups to reduce crime by an average of 20 percent.

Properly implemented, Citizen Patrol groups have proven to be an excellent complement to law enforcement agencies. Using the same members of the community that they protect and serve to help reduce crime is the cornerstone of "Community Oriented Policing" and "Weed and Seed" programs. Continued use and expansion of Citizen Patrol groups throughout the nation is a vital ingredient to help build strong bonds between citizens and law enforcement.

The National Association Citizens On Patrol was founded by, and for, Citizen Patrol Volunteers. As a non-profit, public benefit corporation, the NACOP is the only organization in the world dedicated to supporting the use and growth of Citizen Patrol groups. By understanding the unique needs and requirements of C.O.P. Volunteers and groups, we are able to focus our resources where it will make the most impact. One of our primary efforts is working to gain national recognition and wide spread knowledge of Citizen Patrol groups. This Informational Brochure was developed to help achieve that goal. We hope by bringing this to you, your knowledge and understanding of Citizens On Patrol will be increased along with your appreciation for the dedication of these volunteers.

We welcome any comments or feedback you may wish to share with us and appreciate you taking the time to review this material.

Click here to read some real life Citizen Patrol success stories


Citizen Patrol volunteers conduct regularly scheduled patrols within their communities to watch out for suspicious activities and crimes in progress, aid stranded motorists and generally provide an increased level of comfort for those who see the extra patrol on the streets.

Traffic Control

A major function of most citizen patrol groups is to provide and assist with traffic control at the scene of auto accidents or other incidents that obstruct the road and create a hazard. This allows law enforcement personnel to go back on patrol and focus on their primary purpose which is to prevent and stop crime.

COP's Business Check

Citizen Patrol volunteers conduct routine checks of businesses before, during and after hours to ensure all is well and report any activity that is suspicious in nature or to focus on areas where there has been an increase in crime.

Vacation Check

Citizen Patrol groups offer routine checks for homeowners that are away on vacation or extended periods of time. In the event of a noticeable problem, C.O.P.s can notify an emergency contact left by the homeowner so they may address the problem.

COP's conducting a senior check

Citizen Patrol groups and volunteers also offer routine or on-demand safety checks of seniors living alone or individuals who are unable to move about such as the handicap in their homes. This service is very well received by the community and most people really appreciate knowing someone will check on their loved one and offer assistance if needed.

COP's fingerprinting

Citizen Patrol groups participate in many special events within the community. In this photo, a C.O.P. is helping to fingerprint young children and teens at the request of their parents during a local safety fair. Many citizen patrol volunteers are trained to provide this type of service to the community and law enforcement.

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