What Is It Like To Patrol With CCOP? A Patrollers Perspective.

By Patroller Nicole Macias, CCOP

I joined Castro Community On Patrol (CCOP) in November of 2016 so it’s my one-year patrol-i-versary!

I’ve lived in the neighborhood for a little over 10 years and over the last few years we’ve noticed a real influx in crime, drug use, and homelessness. I had just had a day where I passed someone smoking meth in broad daylight, a human being pooped on my staircase, and we had to yank our dog away from nearly stepping on a needle. I made a post on the site Nextdoor and asked my neighbors what I could do to help clean up the neighborhood because I didn’t want to simply complain about things getting worse and worse. A lot of folks from CCOP are on the site and involved in the community so a Patroller recommended the group and I signed up for the training. I love the Castro and I love getting to know my neighbors and feeling like I’m making a difference.

CCOP Ptlr. Nicole Macias at the 2017 Castro Street Fair.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed up with CCOP. They run you through all kinds of situations in the training that had me a little freaked out. However, I had no idea I was going to be patrolling alongside some of the greatest folks so I’d always feel safe and that we’d be able to handle the situations we’d encountered.

I didn’t expect that I’d make a bunch of new friends and look forward to patrolling or volunteering at events. Oh! That’s another thing. I also didn’t realize we do more than the night patrols. We help at vigils, protests, art dedications, celebrations, rallies, etc. assisting with traffic control, crowd safety, or handing out safety whistles. This is a nice way to get to know your fellow patrollers in a slightly lower stress environment. Some of my favorite “shifts” include the moving Orlando shooting anniversary memorial service, Harvey Milk’s Birthday, the Anti-Nazi rally, The Castro Street Fair and Easter with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

I was really happy to see that instead of a loosely organized volunteer shift, I’d have a handbook, a protocol of what to do and who to call, assigned roles so each person has a focus on the patrol and a set of gear designed to keep us and the community safe (flash lights, body cameras, walkies). It’s pretty darn professional for volunteer work! 🙂

My favorite thing is that on every single patrol someone says “Thank you guys for doing this” it’s really rewarding knowing you’re helping people feel safe, especially in these tumultuous times.

I like that the folks I patrol with are kind and decent human beings who really make an effort to be part of something. I’ve gotten to know so many more of my neighbors and local business owners because of patrolling. Now, when I walk around the neighborhood I almost always see a friendly face and get a hello. I also appreciate how tapped in they are to the goings on in the neighborhood. They’re always able to tell me when construction is starting in a particular area, what the next big event is, and they jump at offering up our help to all kinds of local groups looking for support.

Chf. Greg Carey and Ptlr. Nicole Macias at 2017 Patriot Prayer Counter Rally in Castro

People often ask what we do on Patrol so my short answer is usually: We provide a presence in the community that hopefully discourages bad behavior while trying to do some good. We perform wellness checks on the homeless population and offer services if needed. We help drunk people find their ubers and get home safely. We report street light outages. We help sort out disagreements. We get in touch with law enforcement or paramedics when more complex situations arise.  We check in with local businesses and see how their nights are going and what their pain points are. We discourage folks from loitering on private property where they might get in trouble or disrupt their neighbors, BUT we’re not cops. We don’t throw authority around or put ourselves in harm’s way. We’re volunteers afterall!

If you would like to join CCOP as a new Trainee Patroller, we have classes on-going throughout the year.  Just click the SIGN UP NOW button on the top right corner of our web site www.CastroPatrol.org to find out when the next class will be held.  ALL classes are held in the of the Castro neighborhood.

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CCOP Welcomes New Mission Station Captain Gaetano Caltagirone

Mission Police Station will see a change in Captain on October 28th, with newly appointed Captain Gaetano Caltagirone taking over from Captain Bill Griffin.  CCOP would like to extend a warm welcome to Captain Caltagirone.  We look forward to working collaboratively to help improve and secure the safety and security of the Castro / Duboce Triangle neighborhoods.

Captain Gaetano Caltagirone is pictured on the right.

Captain Gaetano Caltagirone has a wide range of experience in patrol and most recently was the night Captain, in charge of SFPD’s city wide operations overnight.  We hope to meet with Captain Caltagirone soon.  Please take a moment to say hello if you see him in the neighborhood looking after his new command.

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Castro & CCOP Mourn The Passing of Officer John Fitzinger

It is with deep sorrow that we heard of the passing of Patrol Special Police Officer, and Castro beat owner, John Fitzinger on Friday October 6th and we pass this information on through our web site.

Officer Fitzinger took over the Castro Patrol Special Police beat following the death of Patrol Special Police Officer Jane Warner, and was eventually successful in purchasing the beat following approval by the Police Commission from former beat owner Serge White.  Officer Fitzinger was an amazing community Police Officer, committed and dedicated to absolutely everyone in the Castro, and everyone who visited the Castro.

CCOP worked very closely with Officer Fitzinger and relied heavily upon his experience, knowledge, and on more that one occasion, his back-up and support when we were on patrol.  John always brought a sense of calm and professionalism to every situation.

We, and the entire Castro community, will greatly miss this incredible Officer and friend.

Services in celebration of Officer John Fitzinger’s life will take place:

Friday October 20, 2017 @ 11 AM – St. Paul’s Church, 221 Valley Street, San Francisco, CA and will be followed by a reception at the Patio Cafe, 531 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA.

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Thank You To All Who Volunteered On 08/26!

Patrollers and CSVs:

Thank you for the generous donation of your time to help keep the Castro safe on Saturday. We had a total of 28 volunteers who put on the safety vest during the day for a visible safety presence and the willingness to step into the few situations that needed attention.
The one serious event of the day was the medical emergency involving the man who passed out in front of Twin Peaks bar. Our EMT volunteer Greg Albrecht was able to immediately attend to the victim’s needs and the Patrol teams were able to form a protective cordon around the scene and then escort the SFFD first responders and ambulance crew into and out of the area quickly.
For those of you who worked the early shift, please know that the teams who stayed in the Castro in the afternoon and evening received compliments on your behalf. Some of these came from organizers of the myriad of other groups that were part of the event (we worked with 24 community organizers in the 2 weeks leading up to Saturday), but most of the praise came from random strangers who saw your good work and recognized our distinctive uniforms.
There are a few photos of various volunteers here: https://www.facebook.com/CastroPatrol/posts/1510927225667374
Invitation to Join CCOP
We want to remind the SCVs of our upcoming training workshop for new Castro Patrol volunteers. The 60th training event will take place on Saturday, September 16 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Invite friends to join as well. Seats are limited, but if you try to register after the number is exceeded, send me an e-mail and we will “force” an extra seat into the system. (Just in case we are overwhelmed with requests, we might need to ask you to wait until the next training day on November 7.)
To reserve your seat (and read more details about becoming a Patroller), follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/patrol-volunteer-basic-training-class-060-tickets-34761442410
“Greggy”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
castro community on patrol
Greg Carey, Chief of Patrol
“Saint Watchful Eyes of the Castro Beat” of the Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (2012)
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08/26 “Patriot Prayer” Event – What You Can Do To Help

Most people are very much aware of the Patriot Prayer event scheduled to take place in Crissy Field on Saturday August 26 from 2 PM to 5 PM.  Labelled as a “hate speech group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, community concerns have been mounting following violence in Charlottesville, Virginia recently.

Crissy Field is located within the Federal Park Service jurisdiction and while they have approved a permit for the event, the decision to issue the permit and allow the event to move forward may not happen until Friday 08/25 according to Park Service representatives. Non the less, City Officials, Law Enforcement entities, and community organizers have been working to prepare for “the worst” while hoping for the best outcome, such as in Boston over the weekend.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

  • We strongly recommend NOT going to Crissy Field to counter protest.  Working with many community leaders and organizations, as well as in consultation with the City and Police, we recommend that you instead attend one of the many Peace & Unity counter events which will take place in other parts of San Francisco.  This will allow Law Enforcement agencies to deal with the Patriot Prayer folks more easily should violence occur.
  • If you see anything which seems suspicious or activity which is racist, homophobic, violent etc. in the run up to Saturday or on Sunday, CALL 911 immediately and relate as much information as possible.  DON’T delay that call.
  • Capture video footage of any violent actions, threats, or incidents and contact your local Police station or the District Attorney’s office and offer to e-mail the video footage to them for evidentiary purposes.
  • DON’T engage in violence!!  This is precisely what these groups want to create.  Call 911 and step away as much as possible.  Allow the Police to hand the perpetrators, and hand them the video footage of the incident if you were able to capture anything.
  • BE SURE to let friends, visitors to San Francisco and so on know about the event and encourage them to avoid the Crissy Field and surrounding area entirely for the day.
  • Volunteer with one of the many counter events going on throughout the city on Saturday 08/26.
  • Volunteer with us as a Community Safety Volunteer (CSV) for the day.  You will work with our trained CCOP Patrollers as additional “eyes and ears” in the Castro to ensure no splinter groups or other opportunists come into the neighborhood to cause problems.  If we observe anything, we will contact 911 immediately.  (To volunteer send an e-mail to INFO@CastroPatrol.org)
  • Volunteer with groups working to promote diversity and equality after Saturday 08/26 as this may not be the last time such groups come to San Francisco.

 

Within the Castro we have worked with local businesses to place the signs below in their store-front windows.  This sends a clear message that the Castro is OPEN TO ALL, and we will not tolerate violence or hate filled speech from anyone.   These businesses also agree to provide a “safe space” for anyone in trouble. Simply step into any store with the sign and ask them to contact Police for you.

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A Time for Awareness

Shortly after the November 2016 election, Castro Patrol took part in 2 public safety workshops; one SOMA and one in the Castro. At that time, the attached document (link below) was produced to help the community prepare for possible attacks from right-winged organizations, and to remind people to turn to reputable news organizations to prevent spreading false rumors or fanning fear.

Time for Awareness_161121_2,pdf

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Recognizing Dedicated Service This Pride Month

Castro Community On Patrol (CCOP) is blessed with the solid and dedicated support of a great many people, who volunteer on a regular basis to help keep the neighborhood a little safer and more secure.  These volunteers are the true “life blood” of CCOP without whom very little could be accomplished.

We’d like to take a moment this Pride month to recognize the following individuals in grateful recognition of their years of service to CCOP and the community we serve.

Chief Greg Carey is recognized for TEN (10) years of dedicated service to CCOP.  A graduate of Patrol Volunteer Basic Training Class 004 on 01/28/2007.

Senior Patroller Alexander Upchurch for FIVE (5) years of dedicated service to CCOP. A graduate of Patrol Volunteer Basic Training Class 025 on 08/20/2011.

Patroller Neil Fullager for FIVE (5) years of dedicated service to CCOP. A graduate of Patrol Volunteer Basic Training Class 029 on 04/21/2012.

Ptlr. Michael Stoyka for FIVE (5) years of dedicated service to CCOP. A graduate Patrol Volunteer Basic Training Class 001, Mike took some time off, returning to re-certify in Patrol Basic Training class 030 on 06/07/2012.

 

All will receive a certificate of accomplishment and a lapel pin showing the years of service they have provided.  Our most sincere thanks to these Patrollers, and to all Patrollers who continue to commit their time and energy to CCOP on a monthly basis.

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Improving Neighborhood Safety

Recent crimes in the Castro and Duboce Triangle neighborhoods have raised the level of concern by many residents. While the police can occasionally make arrests if an officer sees a crime being committed (“On-View”) without the help of citizens, most crimes require: 1) An identified victim, 2) Someone willing to press charges, and 3) Witnesses able to testify if suspects are arrested. Otherwise, the police are helpless and the suspects are emboldened to repeat or escalate violence in future events. The linked PDF document provides details about improving the safety in your home and neighborhood:

Neighborhood_Safety_170523

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Avoid ATM Card Fraud

 

ATM Card Safety

A compromised Debit (ATM) card allows a crook to steal hundreds of dollars from your bank account. It is even possible to drain your account to zero. Notify your bank and file a police report if you are a victim. Banks generally deny being vulnerable, so contact Castro Patrol (info@castropatrol.org) with details if you encounter an unsecure ATM in the Castro so we can work with the bank and civil authorities.

Skimming
An electronic device may be placed over a legitimate terminal, such a gas pump, point of sale (POS) terminal in a store, or ATM to capture the data from the magnetic strip on the back. “Chip” transactions cannot be skimmed but some merchants have not yet moved to chip terminals. Contactless payments (ApplePay, Samsung Pay, etc.) are the most secure.

Some waiters or bartenders use small skimmers to copy the card when they turn their back or take your card away from your table. Credit cards are safer as fraud does not hit your bank account directly and it is often faster to reverse fraudulent transactions once you notify the bank.

To protect yourself:

  • Check for extra devices at the card slot on a gas pump or ATM
  • Use the “chip” not the mag strip when paying at a store
  • Always use a CREDIT card not your ATM card in restaurants or bars
  • Check your statement every month and notify the bank of any fraudulent transactions

Shoulder Surfing
Some ATMs ask, “Would you like another transaction?” at the end of your session and requires the PIN (Personal Identification Number) but not the card for more transactions. A crook near the ATM observed you entering your PIN and then uses it to retrieve cash if you don’t close out the transaction with a “NO” response.

To protect yourself:

  • Look around for someone watching your actions before using the ATM
  • Shield the keypad when entering your PIN
  • Read the screen to confirm the transaction closes, and answer “NO” to any additional transactions
  • Check your statement every month and notify the bank of any fraudulent transactions
©2017 castropatrol.org
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David Diaz Released from Jail

David Munoz Diaz has been released from SF County Jail following his 3rd conviction for various violent crimes. Please note that his probation includes a midnight curfew, so call 911 if you see him in public after that hour.

Details in Bay Area Reporter article: Article

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