November 15th, 2005 07:46 EST
(Ft. Pierce, FL) Angels Look Over the Treasure Coast
Empower people to help themselves, build self-esteem and confidence, arm them with responsibility and you tap into the greatest source of lasting good possible. "
" Curtis Sliwa, Founder of the Guardian Angels
A little less than a year ago, the Guardian Angels created on the Treasure Coast a new chapter known as the Treasure Coast Guardian Angels. And chosen to lead the new chapter is Steve Horton of Port St. Lucie.
His crime fighting partner, Mark Peterson (lifeguard), relocated a short time ago from the Boston Chapter. Others who have recently joined his team are Bryan Russe, Johnny Portnoy, Brian Birkmeyer and Adam Rargona.
These Angels bond their hearts together to fight inner-city crime wearing their trademark red berets, black paratrooper pants, boots and white t-shirts rolled up to show off their muscles and tattoos -- they look intimidating and proud of it. The question I am asked most frequently is, do you like beating people up? "
Actually, I have never had to beat anyone up. Most of the time it only takes good communication and positive sarcasm to get through to someone, " said Horton.The Guardian Angels patrol crime areas unarmed with only a small martial arts stick and handcuffs. We use Kempo, " martial arts training techniques to takedown our suspects if communication and sarcasm does not work, " Horton said. Usually there is no vigilantism and no physical violence. In sixteen years, he has never had to use the handcuffs that dangle from his belt loop.
The Angels believe there is a solution to every problem, big or small. Their plan for St. Lucie County is to take the streets backs from the drug dealers and the troublemakers. They want to take the G out of Ghetto and the H out of Hood.Once the Angels assert their dominance, crack down, and clean up the streets, it is up to the residents to help maintain their own security, as well as bring life back their neighborhoods. If not, the thugs will come back, " said Russe.
For the last four or five months, the area the Angels have been patrolling is 13th Street and Avenue K, where the 13th Street convenience store is located. Sometimes there are between fifteen and twenty drug dealers scattered throughout the area, but now that the Angels are in town the crime rate is diminishing, " Horton said proudly. As a result, law abiding residents are able to shop in peace at the convenience store and feel comfortable in their own neighborhoods. The owner has thanked us several times for patrolling the area, " Horton added.
Just having the Angels outside the store has really helped people feel more secure to shop, " said store owner Mike Hammad. I have always been a humanitarian and played the tough guy role. Why not do it to make a difference? " said Horton.
Guardian Angels were founded over twenty-five years ago by Curtis Swlia in New York City. They are now fighting crime in over seventy-five cities around the world. When Swlia came to Riviera Beach in 1986, after a little girl was killed in the crossfire of a gunfight, it was then that Horton knew he wanted to be an Angel.
The story of The Guardian Angels is a unique one. Its efforts and achievements in the past quarter century are remarkable. However, to ensure the Angels continued success, funding and recruiting is not only essential; it is the oxygen which allows these programs to breathe into every community and school in need. With your generosity we believe we can thrive in the next twenty-five years and stamp history with accomplishment. "
The Treasure Coast Guardian Angels are always looking for recruits. If you would like to be a role model for safety and are eighteen or older, drug free and without any serious criminal history, please call Steve Horton at (772) 224-0706 or Mark Peterson (772) 708-2949. You can also pay them a visit online at www.guardianangels.org. It`s never been more important than now! Let`s take our streets back from the criminals, " Horton said.