BOCA RATON, Fla. — A retirement community in south Palm Beach County is demanding answers from their property management team. They want to know why they no longer have the Sheriff’s Citizen Observer Patrol program in their neighborhood.
It didn’t take much for Fred Hadley, who lives in Century Village Boca Raton to rally his neighbors.
“This program is funded through our taxes, it’s something that we feel if we’re paying for, why not reap the benefits?” asked Hadley.
He and his neighbors are frustrated over the dissolution of the Citizen Observer Patrol program. A few months ago he said patrols stopped. PBSO says it de-established the unit at the request of leadership at Century Village in Boca Raton, but the Century Village property in West Palm Beach still uses the C.O.P. program.
“It gives us more protection, so why they take it away, it’s not clear,” said Alva Taylor, who also resides at Century Village in Boca.
It’s not clear to WPTV either. We’ve contacted management and have not heard back. PBSO said it fully funds the program which includes patrol cars, uniforms, and radios and scanners in each patrol unit. The Sheriff’s Office also accepts full liability. Bojidar Dobrev lives at Century Village and said he used to be a C.O.P. volunteer himself.
“There were a lot of instances when I saw suspicious vehicles and suspicious persons and I reported them,” said Dobrev who fully supports to the program and wants the return of a unit in his community.
Century Village Boca does have private security.
“They provide gate entry security and regular patrols of the premises and that’s one car that they have,” said Hadley.
Hadley, Taylor, and others say C.O.P. cars look just like a deputy patrol car and gives a law enforcement presence.
“It provides a deterrent effect, it adds visibility,” said Hadley.
“I realize they are not police officers, but they are eyes and ears and they are necessary in the community,” said Taylor who also mentioned that C.O.P. volunteers have helped residents in times of distress.
Hadley believes the decision to end the program came from a liaison who disagreed with patrols extending outside of the community, but Century Village West Palm Beach seems to have no issue with that.
“They’ve been told by the Sheriff’s Office that by patrolling a 2-mile radius outside of Century Village West Palm Beach it actually enhances the security inside because it creates a police presence,” added Hadley.
The Sheriff’s Office said all of the volunteers from the unit that used to patrol at Century Village in Boca Raton have been transferred to other units.
“It’s terrible that we the 8,000 residents of Century Village Boca are being held hostage that our security is being reduced or compromised,” said Hadley.