Serve and Protect: Patrol provides Geist residents with peace of mind

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By Renee Larr

“We’re here for the people,” said Brent McFerran, one of the owners of Geist Patrol.

That’s the motto they’ve been following since they began patrolling in the ’80s. Back then, GP was more of a security service for one neighborhood in Geist. Now, they maintain a radius around the lake.

“We don’t go outside of Geist. We maintain that area,” McFerran said.

GP only employees off-duty police officers, but doesn’t hire just anyone.

“Just because a person is a police officer doesn’t mean we hire them,” McFerran said. “It takes a special kind of personality to work out here. The reason I say that is that we’re here for the people. We’re very customer-service oriented. It takes someone who is willing to talk to the residents and willing to help them.”

Officers often work on their days off from their other departments. They run two cars per shift and operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. They patrol at random times and are never on a set schedule in neighborhoods.

All cars are available by direct dial, meaning callers won’t be speaking with a third-party dispatcher and response times are shortened. This also allows each responding officer to know callers’ exact needs. They have all the same powers as other police officers.

“We can do anything the police department can do,” McFerran said. “We can pull people over and make outright arrests. That’s the big thing, having us out here for security purposes. We can enforce laws, so if someone were robbing your house we can go ahead and make the arrest.”

GP works closely with other police departments as an added service for Geist residents. There is no additional cost to Geist area residents and GP is fully funded by Home Owner’s Association dues.

“We’re very strong on that we work in conjunction with the police department. We’re not here to replace the police department; we’re an added service,” McFerran said. “A lot of police departments can’t do that. A lot of departments are so busy and short man powered that we’re a proactive versus a reactive.”

GP maintains a five-minute response time for every call received. In addition to patrolling neighborhoods, they offer vacation checks on homes, can be added to your alarm company’s notification list as a first responder and provide informational services for HOA meetings.

In order to keep Geist residents provided with up-to-the-minute details, GP has created a Twitter handle (@geistpatrol) and a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/geistpatrol). They offer tips to keep your home and family safe, as well as warnings of potential crimes in the area.

GP wants residents to make sure they realize crime can happen anywhere and education is key.

“We’ll have times where it is really quiet and times when it’s really busy,” McFerran said. “Not that we have a large crime wave, but I think sometimes people get the perception there is no crime around here. Unfortunately, there is crime everywhere.”

GP prides itself on its officers becoming a vital part of each neighborhood in the Geist area and officers will often stop to speak with residents and introduce themselves.  For more information on GP and their services, visit geistpatrol.com.

Safety Tips from Geist Patrol

  • Do not post travel plans on social media. This includes your kids as well.
  • If you’re on vacation during the holidays, make sure your driveway gets plowed or shoveled while you’re gone.
  • Lock car doors … even inside your garage.
  • Make sure your garage door is shut before bed.
  • Set lights on timers while you’re away.
  • Have neighbors bring up garbage cans while you’re away. Leaving them out for days is a tell-tale sign you aren’t home.
  • Do not leave items such as laptops and GPS units in cars.
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