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A new kind of Neighborhood Watch

Last updated on March 5, 2023

Over the past two days we’ve received an overwhelming amount of support for our idea of a neighborhood watch. We did our first patrol on Friday night in Empire. One gentleman even stopped to let us know that a friends dog had been injured during an attempted theft. He gave us a description of the suspect vehicle and said that he thought that a group of armed guys walking around the neighborhood would want to know about it.

A thread on the local Facebook group “What’s Happening Coos County” about us has 300 comments so far. Another thread about the same thing has 121 comments. I’d say 95% are completely in support of us. What that tells me is that people in town are sick and tired of the lawlessness.

So, what exactly is this new neighborhood watch? We are still in the early stages, and to be honest, this was a spur of the moment thing among our circle of friends in response to one of us being burglarized multiple times. There were a few concerns in the Facebook threads about “untrained” people with firearms being a danger rather than a help. We knew some people would have this reaction, so let me address some of it.

First off, we are not untrained. Many of us are prior military, including combat arms. Some are prior law enforcement, whether it be patrol, corrections or reserves, or private security. Most of us have been lifelong hunters. We don’t purport to be “gunfighters” but we know how to handle firearms safely.

Another concern was that this is a job for the police and a bunch of wannabe soldiers should just stay home. Even ignoring the fact that our local police are stretched thin, this train of thought isn’t even historically accurate. Wikipedia says:

“Policing in what would become the United States of America arose from the law enforcement systems in European countries, particularly the ancient English common law system. This relied heavily on citizen volunteers, as well as watch groups, constables, sheriffs, and a conscription system known as posse comitatus similar to the militia system.”

“Many municipalities also formed a night watch, or group of citizen volunteers who would patrol the streets at night looking for crime or fires. Typically, constables and marshals were the main law enforcement officials available during the day while the night watch would serve during the night. Eventually, municipalities formed day watch groups. Rioting was handled by local militias.”

Those in our group are very aware that there are people out there that cannot be trusted with firearms and do not have the judgement to deal with serious situations. We’ve had to make those decisions before when deciding who to associate with. I’ve made those decisions before when choosing who to hire and who not to for private security. None of us are in this for fun or because we just want to beat up some criminals. If you are, you’ve got no business patrolling your community.

One other concern from Facebook referred to my use of “drug abusers” in the last article, claiming that not all of them were criminals. I completely agree, which is why I said “abusers” not “users”. I have no problem with people who smoke pot, or even those who use harder drugs, as long as they don’t abuse their community. My experience has taught me though, that most of the people on the street have mental issues either caused by extensive drug use, or they are using drugs to self-medicate a preexisting mental condition. I feel for these people, but they are the ones constantly being arrested for Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Mischief and Criminal Trespass.

The final question would probably be, “what exactly are you guys planning to do?”. For now, we will be patrolling randomly, at various times and locations throughout the Coos Bay/North Bend area, in order to provide a visual deterrent to criminal activity. When criminals know you’re watching, they tend to behave. There is also a principal referred to as “low-hanging fruit”. Basically, don’t be the easiest target. If you make it a pain to commit crime in your area, the bad guys move on to greener pastures.

We aren’t currently looking for volunteers, although we don’t know what the future holds. Please stay tuned for my next article, where I will outline how you might start a similar patrol. Our group cannot do it all. Even if we could, people need to start taking an interest in their own neighborhood. The problems we are seeing exist because too many people thought, “just let the police handle it”.

-Matthew Wilbanks (Editor @


  1. Ellen Lindsay Ellen Lindsay December 14, 2021

    Thank you all for stepping up when many of us cannot.

  2. Linda Linda December 14, 2021

    Way to go, I totally support you!!!

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