Citizen patrols gain traction in Sherman Park

Long before the violence in Sherman Park back in August, a group of neighbors known as the Sherman Park Citizens Patrol had been out monitoring the area every night - in their own cars, on their own time. It's a small act that has had a growing impact.

On Monday, exactly six months since the unrest, the citizens patrol was awarded $1,500 from Waterstone Bank.

"It means a lot," says Abie Eisenbach. "They're choosing to be a partner in this, and help us."

We rode along with Eisenbach and his patrol partner Monday night. They're among 30 volunteers who work full time jobs, then leave their families at night to drive around Sherman Park as part of a neighborhood watch.

More so than looking for anything suspicious, they're merely trying to show their neighbors in Sherman Park that they're here for them.

"People walking from their car to their house, we'll slow down and make sure they get in okay," Eisenbach says. "We stop and talk to people. If people go out of town, they can ask us to keep an eye on their home. We also report anything out of the ordinary. We've alerted police of drug deals, speeding cars, and a domestic violence situation."

Most of the members of this citizens patrol are Orthodox Jews, who make up a large portion of the diverse Sherman Park neighborhood.

"When talking about the City of Milwaukee, we often focus on our disparities," says Alderman Khalif Rainey. "How we're one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. But right here in Sherman Park, it's both a social experiment and strong example. Where you see African Americans, and you see White, Jewish people living among each other, raising families, supporting one another."

Eisenbach's family business, Kosher Meat Klub, at 48th and Burleigh, was in the heart of the violence and looting in August. It was neighboring business owners of different races and ethnicities who had his back.

"There's a barber shop next door to us," he says. "They stayed outside for us and made sure nothing happened."

That's why he patrols, and vows to stay in Sherman Park -  the neighborhood where he grew up, and now raises his six kids.

"The motto of our patrol is we got to bring unity back to the community," Eisenbach says. "It's got to be everyone talking to everyone. There needs to be open communication. Reach out to your neighbors. I'm proud to live in an area where we actively engage with each other."

Now, other neighborhoods in Milwaukee and beyond, are trying to follow suit and set up similar watch groups. 

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