BULL CREEK, Mo. -- Citizens in the Ozarks are working to clean up their small village, on their own. July marks the first month for Bull Creek’s Citizens on Patrol program.
City leaders in the village, just north of Branson, are hoping the new program can serve as an example to others.
"Bull Creek doesn't have the funding for a Police Department," says City Code Enforcement Officer and C.O.P. leader, Alan Raetz.
Raetz spent 31 years with the Missouri Highway Patrol, and helped teach law enforcement at area colleges.
The retired officer says he drew upon that teaching when trying to figure our how to fill the void in law enforcement in Bull Creek.
"It's being done in other parts of the country with great success," says Raetz. "So I though, ‘why not do it here in Bull Creek?’"
"He’s been well received by the residents," says Bull Creek Administrator, Sherrie Anderson.
Anderson says so far 12 residents have volunteered for the C.O.P program – intentionally patrolling the streets at random hours throughout the day.
"Many people have called and said, ‘I'd love to do it but I can't walk,’ so now we have the golf cart," says Anderson.
"Their main job is to observe and report," says Raetz. "I thought there would be, from certain parts of town, people that might make fun of the guys, but it’s been the complete opposite."
Ratez says the Taney County Sheriff's Office is also on board with the project, and that simple call can have a Deputy in town in five minutes.
"It keeps our little ones safe, I think," says Bull Creek resident Destinee Knepper, who says having any type of presence in town, goes a long way.
"Our neighbors are helping one another," says Knepper. "Not everyone is happy about it, but the mature ones are."
The C.O.P program is still in the early stages, having existed less than a month, but it already appears to be making a difference.
"The information we got of the people, who might be doing some drug activity in town is, 'you can not stop us from doing drugs, we're just going to do them somewhere else," says Raetz, "That's all we wanted in the first place."
Raetz says the sheriff’s office is considering putting in a sub-station at the main apartment complex in Bull Creek, to help increase the law enforcement presence.
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