Veterans on Patrol
The need for this program was confirmed in early 2008 when it was reported in the Houston Chronicle that there were many thefts, break-ins of vehicles while families, widows, friends were at gravesites paying respect to loved ones. Specific press coverage cited break-ins at the Houston National Cemetery particularly on weekends.
With the approval of the TLSC Board, Chapter members Jim Duncan and Stoney Stone called on Jorge Lopez, Director-Houston National Cemetery (HNC) and presented the concept of "VETERANS ON PATROL (VOP). Patterned after the "Neighbors on Patrol" programs, so successful in many neighborhoods in Harris County, TX, VOP would patrol on weekends with TLSC members in Class A uniforms, normally patrolling in pairs. The hours of patrolling would be varied. Mr. Lopez was very receptive and said he would check with the necessary Department of Veterans Affairs senior management. Instead of an expected response time of 2-3 weeks, Mr. Lopez e-mailed that same afternoon and advised approval of our offer and asked, "when can you start?"
Next was advising the Chapter members of the program, recruiting volunteers, and getting some necessary equipment (magnetic signs, amber flashing lights, etc. - all paid for by an anonymous donor) and VA I.D. badges. This was all done and patrolling began on 7 May 2008 and was continuous through 15 May 2011 when funds for professional licensed security became available for HNC.
During our three years of weekend patrolling, we had no reportable incidents of breaking into vehicles, theft, or vandalism. The success of our program was the result of:
· Patrolling every weekend in Class A uniform and being on duty at the front entrance as well as patrolling through HNC.
· Developing a very strong relationship with visitors whereby they felt more secure because of our presence and would also sign on to our request of "windows up, lock your car, valuables in the trunk and Ladies, take your purses with you."
· And most of all, the dedication and commitment of our patrollers.
THANK YOU PATROLLERS - YOU MADE IT HAPPEN
Tom Campion (deceased)
Tom Fitzmorris (deceased)
Charles Laird (deceased)
Travis Riley (deceased)
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