Folks in Rochester, Minnesota are helping to stop crimes while doing a regular, everyday activity: walking their dogs. Those daily strolls dog owners take are being turned into a chance to spot suspicious activity in the neighborhood. The Rochester Police Department’s crime prevention unit held a class for the Dog Watcher Walk Program, teaching locals how to use their extra set of eyes and ears to notice criminal activity.
Darrel Hildebrant, the Advanced Crime Prevention Specialist for RPD, says criminals don’t always pay attention to dog watchers, so they’re perfect for the job. Training emphasizes that the suspicion isn’t “the person” but “the behavior” and the idea isn’t for dog walkers to stop criminals in the act, but to provide information to law enforcement.
Sandra McGhie walks seven miles a day with her dog and thinks this program is a good idea. “The police can’t be everywhere at once,” she says. “And if we can try to take care of the neighborhood and call in when we think something is going on, it's a win-win."