Eagle River Community Patrol growing fast

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - 10:48
  • Eagle River’s Cliff Cook stands aside his pick-up truck in downtown Eagle River on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. Earlier this month, Cook started his one-man patrol, which he said is needed due to a recent increase in crime. (Star file photo/Matt Tunseth)

Cliff Cook’s one-man community watch program is no longer a solo effort.

In fact, the six-month-old Eagle River Community Patrol has already grown to a half-dozen members and has almost $1,000 in the bank.

“We are well on our way to becoming a nonprofit sooner than I thought,” Cook said during a meeting of the Eagle River Community Council on May 10 at the Eagle River Town Center building.

Cook (who also serves on the council) gave a brief status update on the patrol, which he formed last November as a way to help keep “eyes and ears” on the streets of Eagle River.

Cook said the patrol has steadily added new members, including a husband-wife team with strong community ties.

“They’re going to bring a wealth of information,” he said.

Cook’s patrol members must pass a background check and adhere to standards followed by the Coalition of Community Patrols, which operates within the broader Federation of Community Councils. He stressed that patrol members do not attempt to step in when they see suspicious behavior; instead, their job is to stay vigilant and call police when needed.

“I don’t do anything, I call 311,” he said, referring to the Anchorage Police Department’s non-emergency call-in line.

Cook gave the council a brief status update on the patrol, which he said has now driven 4,380 miles and volunteered 451 hours of service. In a follow-up email to the Star, Cook expanded on those statistics.

“Our team has notified APD on suspicious activity/crimes that includes thefts in progress, active drug use, suspicious-acting people walking in the streets, neighborhoods and business areas late at night, drivers possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, locating runaway teens with a warrant(s) and who were suspects in a burglary involving gun theft, assisting vehicles in distress, notifying homeowners of the dredded (sic) garage door open and watching the occasional bear,” he wrote.

Cook told the council he’s personally witnessed what appeared to be drug-dealing activity, especially in downtown parks and parking lots.

“Schroeder Park is a mess,” said Cook, who started the patrol by himself after getting frustrated with crime in the area.

Cook said he and his group will continue to stay vigilant. In his email, Cook said he doesn’t have hard data to show the group has deterred crime in Eagle River — but said he thinks the effort is helping.

“There really isn’t a way to capture deterrence but I can attest, each patrol member has made a potential criminal think twice and move on,” he wrote.

Cook said he’s received good support from the community, and told the council local businesses have been highly supportive of the patrol’s efforts.

“The community has been great,” he said.

In other action Thursday, the council:

Appointed representatives to the Eagle River/Chugiak Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors and the Chugiak-Birchwood-Eagle River Rural Road Service Area (CBERRRSA) board, with Jason Hemphill named to the CBERRRSA board and Kat Hoopingarner to Parks and Rec.

Cook withdrew a motion to suspend meetings for the summer

The next meeting will be Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m. in the Eagle River Town Center building (12001 Business Blvd.)

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274.

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