TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — A group of Towson dog owners may not be on the police force, but that doesn’t mean they and their canines can’t stop crime.

As Gigi Barnett explains, more and more Citizens On Patrol groups around the nation–and here in Maryland–are turning to everyday people to join their ranks.

“I know who looks right in my neighborhood,” said Pat France.

France and 11-year-old Salty are a team. Their agency: the Towson-area Citizens On Patrol. And their mission is clear.

“You are watching for criminal and suspicious activity. And as soon as you see it, you pick up your cell phone and you call 911, and you get out of there,” France said.

France is the vice president of the group. She says it’s turning to the use of every day citizens to keep their eyes peeled–and dog walkers are the perfect disguise.

“If I were a criminal and I saw me walking Salty, I would think, `Oh, there’s somebody walking a dog. I’ll just continue with my breaking in here.’ They wouldn’t pin that on; they wouldn’t think that person is actually watching them for criminal activity,” she said.

The trend is tracking nationwide. Citizens On Patrol groups around the country are looking for more teams like the Towson one to join their ranks. If you can spot crime, they want you.

“We have joggers and bike riders who do the same thing,” France said. “It’s not the dog who’s watching; it’s me who’s on patrol. He just happens to be along with me.”

Citizens On Patrol groups around the country say they are also recruiting truck and taxi drivers to join their ranks because they have specific routes and may notice when something is out of place in a neighborhood.

The more eyes the better. According to Baltimore County Police, this summer, the department awarded more than $4,000 in grants to Citizens On Patrol groups in Towson and Loch Raven.

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