The idea of “see something, say something” is becoming a daily way of life for a group of seemingly unlikely police helpers in Arlington -- and they're making a difference.
Every day nearly 100 police-trained citizen dog walkers, many who are at retirement age, keep communities and kids safe. It’s a chance to use the normal activities of citizens to help with community policing.
“They walk their dog every day, several times a day. So we enlisted them to keep an eye out on their community since they are the ones who know it the most and best,” Arlington Police crime prevention specialist Michelle Benjamin said. “Now in addition to paying attention to their dog, they keep an eye out looking out for crime.”
Dottie Johnson has lived in her Arlington neighborhood for nearly 20 years. She’s one of the dozens of volunteers who are a part of the Dog Walker Watch team, which started in 2016.
“I think it helps the police because they can’t be everywhere and when we are walking, no one pays attention to us when we have a dog with us,” Johnson said. “I carry my cellphone and if there is anything that isn’t supposed to be there, we call 911.”
Mornings are especially important as the dog walkers are able to keep a closer eye on children at bus stops and walking to school.
“If there are kids going to school, they call these residents by name,” Benjamin said. “They know the pet’s name by heart. It makes the community a lot tighter.”
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“There’s a few kids that know her and I bring little treats so they can feed her,” Johnson said of her dog, Dahli.
If something happens, the kids know exactly who to run to for help.
“I think it helps our community. It’s a big city and [police] just can’t be everywhere. We just don’t have enough to put them on every block,” Johnson said. “We are kind of non-conspicuous with our dog. People see us go by and they wave. They don’t know that we are looking around to see if anything is going on."