Local News

Citizens On Patrol In Roanoke Rapids

Posted December 10, 2004 10:57 a.m. EST

— Police officers are not the only ones fighting crime in Roanoke Rapids.

Fred and Mary Ann Gasko drive around Roanoke Rapids looking for crime. They do not carry any weapons. They do not have any power to arrest people and their only equipment is a cell phone and an eye trained to spot criminal activity.

"They don't get out of the car. They don't confront them. They report immediately back to the police, so we can respond and address the problem," said Chief Greg Lawson, of the Roanoke Rapids Police Department.

The Gaskos are part of a 12-member group, the Citizens Patrol. They work 12-hour shifts patroling shopping center parking lots, neighborhoods and parks.

"We've had good training. All of the people with no exceptions are citizens of the area, who have an active participation either here or living here and have an ownership in the town," Fred Gasko said.

Fred Gasko retired from IBM in Research Triangle Park and moved to Lake Gaston. Mary Ann Gasko once owned a Roanoke Rapids day care center.

"For us, it's been an opportunity to give back to the town in a way that we can help," Fred said.

"It's not like cops on TV and a lot of it is very borning. A lot of it is riding down the street and looking and hoping you find someething," Mary Ann said.

The Citizens Patrol reported illegal drug and street gang activity as well as burglaries. The organization is part of Roanoke Rapids' community policing program.