Volunteer 5-0: Civilian Patrols Grow As Recession Puts Citizens on Guard

After parking her truck in this beachside town in July, local resident Pamela Miller says she was confronted by a man wearing a neon-lemon “Parking Enforcement” T-shirt. He accused her of parking illegally, called her “retarded,” and, after she refused to move her truck, bumped her legs with his Ford Crown Victoria, she later told town officials.

With the economic downturn, there’s been a fresh boom across the country in volunteer cadres of citizens taking on some of the routine duties of short-staffed police departments. While a court will decide who did what to whom in the ticket dispute between the 39-year-old Ms. Miller and 70-year-old volunteer George Coleman, the standoff shows how civic involvement isn’t always civil.

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