WASHINGTON - The Guardian Angels are on patrol in the District following a series of violent attacks on Metro. The crime-fighting volunteers kicked off a weekend of citywide crime patrols on Friday.
The volunteer group said they are focusing on the Red Line where there has been a rash of recent incidents.
Their goal is to help deter criminals. They also say in the last week, they have received more than a dozen complaints from fearful commuters.
“It's something to be expected,” said Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. “I remember when John Ayala, our chapter leader in Washington, told me that teenagers were going to be given the right of free passage on the Metro. I said, ‘Whoa, your officials must be asking for trouble.’”
So what will the Guardian Angels do that police are not doing?
“We have the time to be able to approach young men,” said Sliwa. “They tend to be the troublemakers, particularly when they pack up. We try to do intervention. We try to talk to the young men and the young women. And then we try to recruit them.
“Believe it or not, we have been successful over the years and turning many of young men and young women who looked like they were going to be an enemy of society or a predator and turn them into a protector.”
The men in red are best known for their volunteer work as unarmed crime prevention patrollers.
According to John Ayala, leader of the Guardian Angels’ D.C. chapter, he said, “The police are doing the best they can.”
But he said having more uniformed police on Metro may help.
“Because when you see more uniformed police officers, that is when the citizens feel a little safer,” said Ayala.
D.C. police said it has always worked in partnership with the Guardian Angels.
The volunteer group started patrols on Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight. They will be back out on Saturday and Sunday.
They typically patrol in groups of about half a dozen people. They do work in partnership with police and also are urging commuters to use the emergency call boxes if they see something suspicious.