Howard Beach and its surrounding neighborhoods have added another set of eyes on the street as the Civilian Observation Patrol officially started their watch on Aug. 19.
“In a short amount of time we have been able to accomplish a lot,” said Joe Thompson, founder of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol (HBCOP), a nonprofit organization. “Things are going really well.”
The patrol team has been going out through the neighborhoods of Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach for the past week. Thompson, joined by two to three members of the team each night, patrols the neighborhoods in the organization’s newly donated watch vehicle, which they are hoping will have an amber patrol light on top of it in the near future if approved by Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff of the 106th Precinct.
HBCOP has about 15 members at this point and is doing its patrol strictly as a not-for-profit organization with no affiliation to the NYPD yet. To be fully recognized by the NYPD all members must first complete the Citizens’ Police Academy program, according to Thompson. Until then, he will be putting all of his members through security training programs that will properly prepare them to patrol.
Even though Thompson started the patrol in hopes of deterring crime from happening, he says he and his patrol team are looking to help the community in many different ways.
“We want to be able to assist the community with all types of quality of life issues,” Thompson said.
Along with assisting the 106th Precinct in “The Loop,” HBCOP will be helping out Hamilton Beach in its annual baby parade and are looking for ways to help out in the Columbus Day Parade in October. Thompson said they will also try to assist in graffiti removal programs as well as helping to clean up Charles Park.
“We want to be embraced by the community and let them know we are here to help out,” he added.
To find out more about HBCOP, visit their new website at hbcop.com.