Saginaw Arson Watch volunteers, police ready to hit the streets for Angels Night
SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) -(10/30/20)-“It’s amazing what a group of volunteers, along with the city, the fire department, state police, the sheriff, SCENIC, can do,” said Arson Watch spokesperson Arvid Ernstons.
What was once known as a night that kept firefighters and police busy and a city on edge-- is now one residents take pride in-- for keeping arsonists from lighting up the city.
“For the last 6 years, we’ve had 5 years of zero,” Ernstons said.
Arson Watch-- is an organization of volunteers started by a retired Saginaw police officer’s wife Marcia Rabidaeu, who along with police, patrol the city on what’s now called Angels Night and on Halloween-- to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
“And it’s a great program. Got everybody involved from the fire department, the police department, the community, the clergy started this arson watch committee and it works out great. Arsons have gone down. I remember back years ago, we used to have dozens and now they are like zero,” said Saginaw Police Det/Sgt. Matt Gerow.
Gerow says removing blight from the city has also made a huge difference in keeping arson fires on Angels Night low-- the past few years.
“We’ve cleaned up Saginaw. We don’t have whole lot of that going on, right now so there is no targets,” Gerow said.
But this year is a bit different-- The country dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the city of Saginaw with recent uptick in violent crime.
“I think we have to be vigilant because crime really hasn’t gone down in the city of Saginaw during this pandemic. I don’t know we can credit that to. But we are going to vigilant in keeping this program going because I think it’s important,” Gerow said.
Volunteers met at 4:30 Friday to get their gear and then hit the streets.
But Arson Watch spokesperson Arvid Ernstons says you can help even while at home.
“You don’t even have to be out in a car. You just open up your curtains, open up your blinds, turn your porch lights on, look outside. If you see something wrong call it in,” Ernstons said.
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