A crime-fighting troupe known to patrol San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter in costume has inspired an episode of a popular television crime drama.
NBC’s “Law and Order: SVU” on Wednesday featured a group similar San Diego’s Xtreme Justice League.
On television, a group of vigilante crime stoppers dress as superheroes and patrol our streets and at times clash with police.
In reality, the crime fighters are a bit tamer but San Diego officers say the real law enforcement should be left to them.
“You start getting into taking action, taking the law into your own hands, so to speak. That's when perhaps we start to have some problems,” said San Diego police spokesperson Lt. Andra Brown.
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NBCSanDiego first profiled the group in 2011.
Mr. Xtreme and his group of real life superheroes train in Kenpo karate, partly because no one in the Xtreme Justice League is allowed to carry a firearm on patrol.
So instead, they carry self-defense weapons, like stun guns and mace, while patrolling streets in the Gaslamp Quarter and in Escondido.
“We're here to help. We're here to be eyes and ears for the police,” Mr. Xtreme said.
But not all departments want the help.
“In Escondido, it seems like it's a little more of a challenge. I was told last week by a police lieutenant that we're not welcome in his city,” Mr. Xtreme said.
NBCSanDiego contacted Escondido police but the department declined to comment.
While “Law and Order: SVU” paints the "Justice League" as a group of vigilantes, our homegrown version says they work within the law
“They definitely want to improve the community,” Brown said.
The San Diego Police Department appreciates the effort, but says all the toys and karate training, doesn't make them real crime fighters.
“These people are just private citizens. Even though they wear costumes, they're not the respected police uniform we wear,” Brown said.
What's more troubling, Brown said, is the Xtreme Justice League expanding into known gang areas in south east San Diego.
Police officers are concerned the superheroes will take on more than they can handle.
Those patrols are supposed to begin in summer or fall.