Anchorage neighborhoods move toward community patrol programs

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Residents in neighborhoods across Anchorage are increasing their security, but it's not with new gear or additional law enforcement.

Whether with cameras, a watchful eye or something else, people have long been taking at least a portion of their personal security into their own hands.

That includes using websites, such as Nextdoor, to report and learn about things happening within specific neighborhoods.

"I'm starting to feel more comfortable, knowing that people are looking out," said Mary Funner, a Turnagain resident who said she's been trying to get neighbors to participate in neighborhood watch-type programs.

And now, there may be another option. Whole neighborhoods are coming together to help make communities safer, just by getting out on walks and drives, and paying some extra attention, too.

"Crime is not fun," said Kevin Smestad, Northeast Community Patrol Chair. "It's not fun when your car is stolen, your car gets broken into, anything like that. So, why do (we) it? Do it to help the people who are not always watching and looking."

The Northeast Community Patrol will be added to the group of six currently listed on the Anchorage Coalition of Community Patrols site. The patrols are groups of people who will go out on bikes, on foot or in vehicles just to check out area neighborhoods.

The patrols are different from neighborhood and community watch, but along the same lines. And as for the Northeast Community Patrol, that one is only just starting up again, Smestad said.

"Some people believe it is kind of imperative we do stuff like this," he said. "At least for me, I just enjoy helping the community."

Anchorage already has a half dozen or so community patrols in neighborhoods across town, including Bayshore/Klatt, Birchwood, College Gate, Mountain View, Nunaka Valley and Scenic Foothills. The groups are not sanctioned or supported by the Anchorage Police Dept. but instead are meant to be helpful to them.

The idea is not to replace law enforcement or do their jobs but instead add extra eyes around town, and perhaps be another way of improving community relations as well.

"We hope it builds up the community," Smestad said. "What we're hoping for is that people get to know their neighbors. So that way, when someone sees you driving or walking, they might go, okay, they're checking out what's going on."

You can check out the Anchorage Coalition for Community Patrols - which includes patrols in Scenic Foothills, Mountain View and College Gate, to name a few - by clicking here.