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Guardian Angels: A Unique Approach to Crime Prevention

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1989
23 pages
The Guardian Angels represent a form of citizen crime prevention that has fostered interest and concern regarding the group's impact, motives, leadership, and organizational structure.
Led by their founder, Curtis Sliwa, these volunteers patrol the streets and subways in over 50 cities. The purpose of this exploratory study was to document the activities of the Angels, assess their impact on crime and citizen fear of crime, and describe features of the group that differentiate it from other citizen patrols. Recent research suggests that citizen patrols may reduce crime and make citizens feel safe by imposing social order. Study findings suggest that Angels may not reduce the violent offenses they seek to prevent, although they may have limited impact on property crimes. Segments of the population feel safe when Angels patrol, which may be associated with the Angels performing an order-maintenance role. Sliwa's efforts to mobilize minority youth to be positive role models is a unique feature of the Angels. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the Angels may depend on the extent to which Sliwa can seek rapprochement with law enforcement and community leaders. 17 references, 2 tables. (Author abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 1989