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Friday, July 1, 2005

Cable Guys Join Forces With Law Enforcement in Florida

From Tampa Bay's 10 News:  Law enforcement officers can't be everywhere, that's why many people rely on neighborhood watch programs to act as additional eyes and ears in the community. Now there are 500 extra sets of eyes on 'crime patrol'.  Five hundred Bright House Networks service technicians are now being trained to keep a look-out for crime. Whether it's a thief casing a home to burglarize, to crimes that could be going on inside someone's home. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office went over some of the basics with the employees.
Ron Spurgeon, service technician:
"They talked about using common sense, use sights and smells to make sure everything's alright. (For example) if you suspect child abuse, or see kids that have more than the number of bruises than they should have; the elderly, checking on them (to make sure they're not being neglected)."

The employees will not carry weapons, nor be able to make arrests, nor will they take the place of law enforcement officers.

Dan Ballister, Bright House Networks:
"Our people are not going to be vigilantes, we're not asking them to be in harm's way. We don't want people chasing after cable vehicles, and they're not going to go on high-speed chases after suspected criminals, they're going to do the right thing, call law enforcement agencies get them involved."

The Sheriff's office has about 350 deputies on the streets, and Sheriff Jim Coats says the extra sets of eyes will make a difference, since criminals won't even be aware they are being watched.

Sheriff Jim Coats, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office:
"They're always looking for someone in uniform presence, in this case you've got folks in plain clothes working on behalf of the law enforcement and community."

The technicians will be armed with a list of emergency law enforcement numbers. By year's end, 2,500 cable employees will be trained in seven counties.   [Mark Godsey]

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