Recent attacks against the Shomrim could not be more inaccurate and further from the reality of the important role a neighborhood watch group like the Shomrim plays for city residents.
In Flatbush, for example, Shomrim has many dedicated volunteers who serve our neighborhood seven days a week, 24 hours a day. In an average year, the volunteer members respond to thousands of calls. The volunteers have no badge, no gun, no bulletproof vest, no privileges or special treatment.
Neighborhood watch groups like the Shomrim do get small allocations from elected officials to cover operational costs. In addition, a few years ago, Flatbush Shomrim was entrusted, via a one-time capital grant, with a mobile command center that serves, among many other things, as a valuable tool to help locate missing persons, from Alzheimer’s patients to lost children. On an ongoing basis, Flatbush Shomrim helps locate children from all communities including Turkish-Muslims, Russian orthodox, Latin-Americans, African Americans, etc. Among the many cases they respond to, they assisted in the search of a missing 8-year-old Jewish child, which ended in unspeakable tragedy.
The Shomrim organization is neither a replacement for the outstanding work of the NYPD nor were they designed to be. But like any good neighborhood watch, they do serve as the NYPD’s eyes and ears and bring them valuable information that may lead to arrests, if warranted. They are also among the first to respond to police requests for additional manpower. These valuable services, combined with many other community benefits to both our young and elderly residents, have been commended by many organizations, agencies and elected officials as a major contribution to the betterment of communities, which, if at all quantifiable, far exceeds the organization’s annual budget.
Finally, the Flatbush Shomrim’s operating procedures and protocols require an immediate call to 911 in all cases of missing persons. Above all, the group has an unequivocal and publicly stated zero-tolerance policy for pedophiles and abusers. Again, all alerts and cases are immediately referred to the NYPD.
The Shomrim are proud to serve all communities and assist in making the city a better and safer place for all their neighbors. The abundance of calls, testimonials, accomplishments and track record with the NYPD and other agencies, over the years, speak for themselves.
Ed Powell is president of UMMA GROUP INC and the 70th Precinct Community Council.