Block patrollers get to know the streets

By Josh Ellerbrock -

The view from the inside of a police cruiser.

The view from the inside of a police cruiser.


LIMA — Sue Cress doesn’t live in the block she has signed up to patrol in, but she did as a child in the 1950s. She pointed out her childhood home, a little white building on Fourth Street, as she finished out her citizen block patrol training in the passenger seat of a police cruiser.

Like many of her generation, Cress and her family moved to another part of the city by the 1960s, but today, she plans to return as one of the volunteers signed up to walk through neighborhoods and provide another street-level pair of eyes to aid the city government in keeping its streets clean and safe.

To get ready for the role, the 74 year old has attended classes taught by Lima police officers and already patrolled with an officer for four hours at night. On May 13, she rode for another four hours during the day with Lima Police Department Officer Justin Wireman.

Her reason for joining? She’s nosy, and she wanted to do something with her time.

“If we all work together, it would be better for the city,” Cress said.

On Friday, Wireman explained what he might be looking for and how he does his job as a patrol officer. Cress filled in the blank spots in the conversation with her decades-old memories of a life long past — explanations of how people would pick daisies to eat, concerns of asbestos siding and recollections of fields where houses now stand. By the end, Wireman might have learned more from Cress than Cress from Wireman.

About half an hour after starting the patrol, Wireman pulled on Union Street to find a man carrying a distraught woman, and Wireman got out of the vehicle to learn a little more about the situation. Five minutes later, five more police officers arrived on the scene. Residents and neighbors stood on their porches and watched as the officers ended up arresting the woman due to a warrant in her name, ticketed the man who had carried her for possession of marijuana and ended up taking the car, which stunk heavily of marijuana, Wireman said.

The situation was resolved peacefully within 10 minutes. According to Wireman, the woman had been reacting to an incident at a funeral close by, and she began to hyperventilate, at which point the man ended up dragging her into the backseat of his vehicle.

“You might be my good luck charm,” Wireman said to Cress when he returned to the vehicle. “You get me into all kinds of nonsense.”

Cress had watched the scene from the patrol car and noted the officer’s reactions.

“I think most of them enjoy their jobs,” Cress said.

At the end of her ride, Cress had the credentials necessary for her new role. Over the next few months, she’ll be walking the neighborhood with three others, getting to know residents and noting when something might be out of place or suspicious. If she sees something like a man dragging a woman into a car, she’ll call it in to the professionals.

As for smaller incidents, she’s not too worried. She’s raised six kids and 52 foster children, so how hard can a block patrol be?

“I can take care of myself,” she said.

The view from the inside of a police cruiser. view from the inside of a police cruiser. Submitted

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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