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Thread: Edmonton's Guardian Angels Answer Community Need

  1. #1
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    Default Edmonton's Guardian Angels Answer Community Need

    On the 10th of September in 2007 a graduation ceremony took place at the Montrose Community Hall. The hall was packed with friends and family members of the six people who were to become Edmonton's first Guardian Angels. Also in attendance were numerous media representatives, long time member and past President of Neighborhood Watch, Merv Swityk, as well as members of the public who were on hand to show support. Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels had flown from New York for this event and spoke about the philosophy and history of the group. Keynote speaker Chris Braden, former Superintendent of the Edmonton Police Service, gave all in attendance a colorful history lesson regarding an old English law (Hue and Cry) that required citizens who saw a crime in progress or a criminal being pursued by others to drop their tools and give chase:

    “Hue and Cry, formerly, in English law, pursuit of a criminal immediately after he had committed a felony. Whoever witnessed or discovered the crime was required to raise the hue and cry against the perpetrator (e.g., call out “Stop, thief!”) and to begin pursuit; all persons within hearing were under the same obligation, and it was a punishable offense not to join in the chase and capture. The perpetrator was promptly brought into court, and if there was evidence of his having been caught red-handed, he was summarily convicted without being allowed to testify in his own behalf. The hue and cry was abolished in the early 19th cent. Possible modern survivals are the obligation to serve on a sheriff's posse and to assist a police officer in pursuing a suspected culprit."


    Many things have changed since the period of time in which this law was in effect in England, and the “Hue and Cry” may not even have been part of our Canadian history. Perhaps readers with knowledge of this can share their insights. However, at this time in Canada, a citizen does have the legal right to assist someone in trouble and make a citizen's arrest. There would be obvious situations where assisting someone in trouble would not be advisable or even feasible. Situations involving guns, or when a good Samaritan is alone and there are multiple attackers, and various other situations. One would hope that in any type of situation, every effort would be made to call the police as quickly as possible.

    Curtis Sliwa told the audience the Guardian Angels are not a new concept, that this is just getting back to the way things used to be, people looking out for other people.

    Every Guardian Angel recruit has to provide a current Police Criminal Background Check. Something serious on a persons record like murder, attempted murder, sex crimes, hate crimes, and various others, would prevent someone from being becoming a Guardian Angel. A minor offense would not necessarily disqualify a person, depending on the circumstances, how long ago it occurred, and what positive contributions to society a person has made since. The Guardian Angels believe that someone who has made mistakes in the past and has turned their life around would be able to relate to troubled people on the street, especially youth, in a way that others may not be able to.

    New recruits train for approximately 3 to 5 months and are then eligible for graduation. Training would cover conflict resolution, basic criminal code training (section 494) covering a citizens right to assist someone in trouble. Martial arts instruction, properly filling out witness statements, and safety patrol procedures are also covered. Every recruit has to be certified in First Aid and CPR. Curtis Sliwa believes that the criminal code training is one of the most important aspects of the training. As Chapter Leader I would agree, it is essential that every recruit and graduated member clearly understands what we as private citizens can and can not do. Our Edmonton Chapter has no room for anyone who thinks we have the same powers as the police, or can use more than reasonable force in situations.

    New recruits, after attending several training sessions, can join the safety patrols. It is a form of on the job training and allows us to see how people respond to being on the street. The training period allows us to see if a person has the temperament to be able to handle being out on the streets. Anyone with a really short fuse or a desire to get out there and “kick some butt” will not be part of the Guardian Angels.

    At the start of every patrol, every member is patted down for weapons. We call the Edmonton Police Service and advise them where we will patrolling and how many members are in the safety patrol. We also provide a cell number to EPS should they need to contact us. There are several reasons for the call to EPS, if they have an operation of some kind in the area they can ask us to patrol elsewhere and they have in the past given us information such as an aggressive panhandlers description and area he was seen operating in. To be clear, had we seen him, all we would have legally been able to do is watch and observe and offer to walk with any people who may have been uncomfortable with him, as well as report his location to police.

    While out on the streets we hand out cards for the “Report A Drug House” program when people tell us about suspected drug houses. We also hand out information about different social agencies. We always encourage people to call the police regarding problems in their neighborhood. Some people feel more comfortable passing information to us which we'll then pass along to the police for them. In the inner city, we'll pick up needles that addicts have discarded, we have at times picked up over 50 needles in one area in just a few minutes.

    There are many well established citizens groups in this city who are fulfilling an important role in helping to make our city safer. Neighborhood Watch, Neighborhood Foot Patrol, Community Police Radio Network, and about 20 other groups volunteer to help make a difference. Most or all of these groups fall into the official EPS Volunteer Program. The comments above about the communication with EPS are not meant to suggest or imply that the Guardian Angels are officially endorsed or supported by EPS. The reason we do not fit into the official volunteer program is simply that if we see a senior being attacked, a person being swarmed, a woman being sexually assaulted, or a child being violently dragged away by someone, we will take immediate action to end the attack and hold the attacker/attackers for police. Because we will not surrender our legal rights as Canadian citizens to assist someone in trouble and use reasonable force, we fully understand that we don't fit into the official volunteer program as currently structured. Guardian Angel procedures call for us to notify police immediately, but while one person is doing this, the rest of the group is taking action to end the attack as quickly as possible, thereby perhaps minimizing injury to the victim. We also encourage witnesses to wait for the police.

    If anyone reading this feels that “this isn't something that private citizens should be doing”, ask yourself this....if you or someone you care for very deeply was being attacked and a group of Guardian Angels ran to help you or your loved one....would you honestly say “please don't help me, I don't think private citizens should be helping me”.

    If you feel you are tough enough to take care of yourself in any situation, or you live in an area where nothing bad ever happens..then that is truly wonderful. Unfortunately, we live in a time where some would see a senior or a disabled person or a homeless person as an easy target, where people will stand by and watch as a friend beats the life out of someone for nothing more than an accidental bump, some perceived slight, or just for fun. So back to the question, if you said “of course I would want someone to help if my grandmother was being attacked, or my son was being swarmed, or my granddaughter was being sexually assaulted” ...why wouldn't everyone else deserve the same help you'd want for your loved one? If your response to the question would be to say that you wouldn't want citizens to help you or a loved one while being attacked, I'd question how truly honest you are being with yourself.

    From June 11 to June 14, I attended the 30th Anniversary of the Guardian Angels in New York City. I represented our Edmonton Chapter as well as Canada. I had the pleasure of meeting and patrolling in New York with the London, England Chapter Leader, two members from Japan, as well as approximately two hundred Chapter Leaders and Members from all over the United States. We patrolled in Yonkers, the Bronx, and various areas of Manhattan. On Saturday night a group of us went with Curtis Sliwa to the McDonald's on Fordham Road in the Bronx where it all started 30 years earlier. He gave us a lot of the history of the early days. He noted that the night manager before him had been pistol whipped right in the restaurant. When a security guard hired by McDonald's was shot and killed in front of the restaurant, the company terminated on site security. Curtis then hired people based on their ability to back him up, and not their cooking skills, when the gangs and others came in to rob or harass customers and staff.

    On Sunday June 14, 200 Guardian Angels marched with Curtis Sliwa and his family in the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade which went up 5th Avenue for about 40 blocks. The Daily News estimated the crowd at one million people. It was great to see how many people along the parade route strongly support the Guardian Angels.

    Two days earlier at the annual Gala, Curtis Sliwa was presented with the key to the city by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. In attendance was Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as well as many other notable New Yorkers.

    There are now approximately 5000 Guardian Angels in about 140 cities in 13 countries. Members range from students to retirees, professionals, trades people, active and past members of law enforcement and the military as well as many other walks of life. We all share a desire to volunteer our time to help make our communities safer. We also recognize that the police are doing the best they can with the resources and manpower they are given and that we all have an obligation to do what we can to help, within the law, in whatever way we can.

    The following quote on the bottom of the Certificate of Graduation every member receives sums things up nicely:

    “All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good people remain silent and do nothing.”

    Sir Edmond Burke

    Visit www.edmontonguardianangels.com if you are interested in joining GA in Edmonton or if you would like to arrange a presentation about GA.

    -- Dave Schroder

  2. #2
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    Guardian Angels are friends to strangers, not uniformed brawlers

    Local chapter feeling squeeze on streets from lack of volunteers

    BY SCOTT MCKEEN, EDMONTON JOURNAL
    AUGUST 10, 2009

    Dave Schroder walks softly and carries a big smile.

    The head of Edmonton's Guardian Angels is no thug or adrenalin junkie. He is a realtor. He volunteers on charity boards.

    He spent much of the weekend at the Folk Festival, of all things. To say that Schroder defies my image of Guardian Angels' stock is an understatement.

    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/...696/story.html

    Yes, we need to get tough with criminals, and the Guardian Angels will bring a sense of safety, a first step towards restoring crime-ridden communities. Good luck.
    "Talk minus action equals zero." - Joe Keithley, D. O. A.

  3. #3
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    Hue and cry ! What a wonderful concept! I wish we had something like it in this day and age. Great job by the Guardian Angels by the way. Keep up the good work !

  4. #4

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    Not that I'm not grateful for these peoples efforts but I'd be a lot more grateful for a police service that works. There's tons of police babysitting the drunk frat kids on the southside on the weekends but no police presence at all downtown where theres ALWAYS prostitutes, vagrants and crime ( check the EPS crime map...) My friend was attacked on 95th and no one even responded to our call. The dispatcher only said 'We'll try to send someone'. Is anyone else tired of being scared on the north side ? Are these guys really the answer ?

  5. #5

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    I just want to know whats up with the logo. That all seeing eye is way to creepy for me.

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