Tulsa police received hundreds of tips while they looked for a serial sexual assault suspect and the Crime Prevention Network told FOX23 they saw a huge spike in people wanting to start alert neighbors programs and people wanting training to start citizen alert patrols in their neighborhoods.
They said every time there is a major crime or crime spree like this the interest in these programs skyrockets, but as soon as the crimes are solved the watch and patrol groups tend to fall to the wayside, but they’re hoping that doesn’t happen this time.
“There’s always something,” said Rick Bahlinger, a Citizen Alert Patrol captain.
Bahlinger lives in the Mitchell Park area near 71st and Sheridan, where they’ve had an Alert Neighbors program and a Citizen Alert Patrol in action for about 20 years.
He said it started to address a specific crime spree but they continued even after the crime stopped and crime has for the most part stayed away.
“(We) made ourselves visible and kind of got out there and looked for the bad guys. And the problem went away. Whether it was us, or the problem just went away (on its own) we may never know. But we like to think that our efforts and our visibility helped,” he said.
Carol Bush, who heads up the Crime Prevention Network, said that kind of dedication is rare.
But she hopes this fear over a serial rapist has changed things for people.
“I’m glad people are getting in the game, but they’ve got to stay in the game,” she said.
After all, a rapist isn’t the only kind of criminal people should be looking for in their neighborhoods.
“Meanwhile, we’ve had burglaries and robberies, we’ve got the usual vandalism stuff going on. You know, all the other crimes that happen in our neighborhoods are still happening while we’re all looking for this guy,” she said.
Bahlinger said there are almost never any of those crimes in his neighborhood now and he thinks it’s because of the citizen patrols.
“You know what looks right. You know the cars that should be there. You know the people that should be there. When you’re riding around, if something looks out of place you just know it,” he said.
The Crime Prevention Network set up several Citizen Alert Patrol training sessions for next week because of all the interest with the serial sexual assaults, they hope people will decide to still come now that police have their suspect.