BROOKLYN, New York — A recent spate of attacks on houses of worship — including the shootings at a synagogue in San Diego at the end of April and the Easter church bombings in Sri Lanka — have put religious communities on edge across the globe.
But in Brooklyn, a group of Muslim volunteers have created a new community patrol service, aptly named the Muslim Community Patrol and Services, to keep a lookout over the community. Similar to Jewish and Asian community patrol groups that came before it, MCPS began shifts in late March, going around their local neighborhoods and communicating with law enforcement when they come across incidents.
“A lot of crime is deterred just by the presence itself —having the lights on, having the cars look like the way they are,” one of the volunteers, Mohammad Khan, told VICE News.
The patrol cars look very similar to those of the NYPD, which volunteers say help their deterrence efforts. But unlike the NYPD, MCPS are not law enforcement and are bound by the law, meaning they can’t run red lights or carry firearms.
The MCPS have just over 30 volunteers trained in CPR, self-defense, active shooter training, among others. The patrols are scheduled, unscheduled and random, and their dispatch is online 24/7 so that they can respond to any type of call that comes in.
“There are over 350 mosques in New York City. Most of them don't have security,” said Khan. “So if something happens like God forbid another attack like [the one in] New Zealand can take place in any of these mosque in New York City, because they don't have patrol. They don't have security.“