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Lawrence police patrol to prevent crimes of opportunity

LAWRENCE, Ind. (WISH) – Any given night on police patrol involves an unpredictable agenda as displayed on a Friday night in September by Reserve Sergeant Mel Keaton.

The full-time minister and Lawrence Police Department chaplain volunteers his time patrolling to keep his community safe.

Keaton escorted 24-Hour News 8 on a ride along to show what he and his fellow officers are looking for under the cover of darkness.

“Things change a lot once the sun goes down,” Keaton said. “There’s a certain element that just thrives on the darkness and they come out. They’re looking to steal. They’re looking to commit crimes. They’re looking to do whatever they can get away with and darkness helps with that.”

During the four-hour ride along, Keaton responded to a call of shots fired, disturbances and complaints of intoxicated subjects. When not dispatched to an issue, the sergeant would drive by businesses, schools and residential areas looking for any suspicious activity or abandoned vehicles.

According to Keaton, preventing criminal opportunities is the point of patrolling.

“Two things kind of motivate criminals. One is what’s in their heart and their desire and the other is opportunity,” Keaton said. “With an aggressive, high-profile, visible patrol tactic; that’s uniformed officers being out in the community, one of the things we’re doing by doing that is cutting down on a criminal’s opportunity just by being visible.”

Keaton is one of two dozen sworn reserve officers on the streets in Lawrence.

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