San Diego

Neighborhood Watch Group ‘Guardian Angels' Spawns New Chapter in Pacific Beach

"Guardian Angels" wear red berets as they patrol the streets, neighborhood watch-style

Some people who live in Pacific Beach are so fed up with crime, they're taking action by starting a local chapter of a national volunteer neighborhood watch group.

Paul McBride is one of six members of the newly-formed Guardian Angels PB chapter. Hoping to sign-up more volunteers, he set-up a table near the corner of Mission Boulevard and Grand Avenue Wednesday.

Guardian Angels always patrol in groups of at least two. They wear red berets with Guardian Angels-branded shirts or jackets, and they patrol the streets without any weapons.

They’re trained in the art of diffusing verbal conflicts as well as martial arts to protect themselves and others when police aren’t around.

“We’re on the street patrolling, being a visual deterrent to crimes committed or being a witness to a crime and being able to make a citizen’s arrest and having the police come deal with it when need be,” explained McBride.

The volunteer organization started in 1979 in New York.

Pacific Beach transplant Patrick D’Auria met with McBride to talk about joining the Guardian Angels. He remembers them while growing up in New York City.

“When you saw them getting on the subway or stand on the street corner, you knew the situation was going to be alright," said D’Auria.

Members have to undergo a background check and are asked to volunteer four hours a week. All part of an effort to help keep extra eyes on the community and to create a safer Pacific Beach, though some question whether it’s vigilante justice.

“That’s the nice thing about the Guardian Angels. They’ve got a reputation and have been around a long time and they follow the rules,” said member Sarah Bonesteel.

According to the Guardian Angels, they work in connection with the police, calling to let them know when and where they’re going to be patrolling.

The Pacific Beach chapters is planning to meet with members of the San Diego Police Department in the next few days before they start patrolling in the coming months.

“We like to meet with new organizations to create the best way toward helping them achieve their goal," San Diego Police Department spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said. "Our goal is to make sure they do it safely and in the best interest of the community."

Once the Pacific Beach chapter is up and running, they hope to expand to other communities.

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