Ex-Military patrolling Houston neighborhoods

Published On: Jan 08 2014 10:14:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 09 2014 06:39:33 AM CST

Jan. 8, 2014: An elite group of security officers, who got their start fighting terrorists, is patrolling Houston neighborhoods. Owen Conflenti reports.

HOUSTON -

An elite group of security officers, who got their start fighting terrorists, is patrolling Houston neighborhoods.

"I love the neighborhood," said homeowner Brenda Thompson. "It's great."

Thompson has lived in Oak Forest for nearly 15 years. But, over those years she has seen the neighborhood change.

"There was a lot of increase in driveway robberies, people would follow you home from the grocery store and rob you in your driveway," said Thompson.

The neighbors had enough of the crime, formed a committee and decided to hire on SEAL security.

"We just don't know how far people will take it," said George Dobek, a member of the Oak Forest security committee. "We have a retired veteran of WWII living in our neighborhood and his home was invaded... We want to be able to leave our homes and come back knowing they're safe."

It's much more than a night watchman making his rounds, these are highly trained officers empowered to make arrests.
Many of the guys are ex-military, armed, patrolling in marked cruisers, or walking around with K-9s.

SEAL has also been fighting pirates off Africa for 10 years. A few years ago, they transitioned into Houston neighborhoods.

James Alexander is the director of operations for SEAL security.

"Three months out of the year it's monsoon season. So the pirates can't get... far enough to take a ship hostage," said Alexander. "So we had weapons and dogs, sitting here doing nothing for three months."

Sometimes the SEAL officers are the first on scene of a crime. They work closely with the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

"Depending on the type of volume, Sheriff's office or Houston Police Department are receiving at that time, we're able to respond since we're in the community, to respond to that lower class call which is basically an alarm call, suspicious vehicle, suspicious persons," said Alexander. "Just frees up the police department to be able to do more important things."

But the SEAL's job can be just as dangerous as a police officers or even as dangerous as patrolling the seas off Africa. Recently, in the Greenspoint area a SEAL officer was killed in the line of duty.

"(He) was in the process of detaining a suspect when the second suspect circled behind him and shot and killed him," said Alexander. "But that was his job. He was doing his job. All our guys know through our training academy and the type of work they do, it's dangerous. Anything can happen at any time."

You'll find SEAL officers in close to 50 communities in Harris County. They've been in Oak Forest since November.

According to Dobek, crime is already down in that area.

"If you were going to commit a crime, would you come here knowing they were here or would you go somewhere else?" asked Thompson.

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