Wayne police cuts spark community patrols

- Residents in the city of Wayne step up after seeing the city's police force cut in half.

Wayne is approximately six square miles - a lot of territory for two police officers in separate cars, to patrol. But that's what happens when a department's numbers go from 46 officers down to 20. So now the neighborhood is helping out - and watching.

"With being held at gunpoint and being told that she was no good and things like that, she was very grateful," said Vern Amos.

FOX 2 rode along with Vern Amos of the Volunteer Neighborhood Watch Patrol, and he told us about a desperate situation he encountered.

"We look for suspicious activity," he said. "You've always got that one bad element that wants to push the envelope."

Verne's seen so much as a citizen with the Wayne neighborhood watch patrol… looking out for the bad guys. He's out in a private vehicle on his own time and his own dime, trying to keep his city safe.

"I've seen it get a lot better," he said.

Brian Evanciw got the citizens patrol going a year and a half ago after police numbers dropped by half over the years.

"I threw it on Facebook and said I'm going to start this if anyone is interested," he said. "We had quite a few people sign up."

Wayne Mayor Susan Rowe says she has seen the results.

"Wayne has got some strong people, some dedicated people that live here," said Rowe. "We will survive."

Rowe blames dwindling resources for the cuts in police officers.

"That is a problem," she said. "Do you want local governments, and if you do, how are we supposed to pay for them."

FOX 2: "Do you see yourself being able to budget for more than 22 officers?"

"That is one thing we are going to be trying to look at in this budget year," Rowe said. "We would like to be able to give the chief at least 26 if that is at all possible."

But the chief puts full police staffing at about 34 officers. So Wayne's neighborhood watch will keep on rolling.

While the program is not sanctioned by the city, the chief says the department is "extremely understaffed." He says they have reached out to the federal and state government for grants to get four additional officers full-time. In the meantime, he does rely on citizens to be the eyes and ears of the community.
 

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