For more than 40 years, Crown Heights Shomrim (Hebrew for guards) have been combating crime on the streets of Crown Heights.
The Shomrim are licensed organizations of volunteer Jewish civilian patrols which have been set up in hassidic and hareidi-religious neighborhoods in the United States and England to combat burglary, vandalism, mugging, assault, domestic violence, and anti-Semitic attacks. They also help locate missing people. Shomrim groups are trained by local police departments.
Mendy Hershkop from Crown Heights Shomrim said, “We help people in many different ways – if they need a boost or they are locked out of their car, crime prevention, suspicious people, possible break-ins – anything big or small, we’re here.”
The Shomrim, he said, do not carry weapons, but rather support one another using two-way radios. Their work is coordinated with the police because, as he emphasized, “They are the legal authority and we work with them. We won’t do anything without them.”
Despite being a Jewish organization, Hershkop emphasized that the Shomrim help anybody who needs it, Jewish or not.
“When we go on patrol and sees someone who needs help, Jew or non-Jew, doesn’t make a difference what color – we’ll help you,” he said.