OAKLAND (KCBS) – While Oakland police struggle to keep up with calls for service, a citizens group is patrolling more than 40 blocks of International Boulevard to help prevent crime in the city.

7 to 12 members of what’s called the Bay Area Street Safety Patrol, a group of off-duty security guards, have been walking along International Boulevard between 47th and 78th avenues on weekend nights for the past year.

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KCBS’ Ted Goldberg Reports:

They wear black berets, black fatigue pants, black t-shirts and carry handcuffs.

“We walk up and down and we see certain areas,” said founder Enrique Zerbato. “And if we see certain actions happening that are negative, than we stay there for awhile to hopefully displace that and move it on to somewhere else.”

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Zerbato said members of his team have detained people in the past.

“We have put people in handcuffs. It’s happened,” he said. “But it has to break a certain threshold. You just don’t come up and cause that. We’re not the cause of the problem, we’re here to deter.”

While he acknowledges that he and the rest of his patrol could be putting themselves in danger, Zerbato said it’s all about stepping up. “We could be getting paid for this, but this is our way of giving back to the community. It makes us want to come out here and help,” he said.

Last weekend, Oakland police officials said they were unable to respond to dozens of calls. The department currently has 636 officers, 200 less than they had several years ago.

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