Wan-Wan Patrol helps Karasuyama Japan feel safe

As America grapples with the idea of ​​funding the police and citizens struggle to find alternative ways of thinking about crime and social justice, a Japanese neighborhood relies on little dogs to bring a community together.

Tokyo’s Wan-Wan (which can be translated as “Bow Wow”) is a refreshing mainstay in the Karasuyama district of the greater Tokyo area. It’s an old practice, according to France 24, where locals walk one of 150 brightly dressed puppies to patrol the streets and make others feel safe.

Small dogs are used to deter crime and help children get to and from school.

Yurika Igarashi is one of those children who spoke to Agence France Presse for France 24 about the Wan-Wan patrol.

“Sometimes I get scared when I come home alone,” said the young girl, who can’t wait to meet Sakura, a little poodle, on her walks. “But I feel good walking with the Wan-Wan Patrol.”

Tokyo has been hailed as one of the safest cities in the world, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2019 Safe Cities Index. But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take security measures.

Jun Ameie, principal of Kyuden Primary School, spoke to AFP about the initiative.

“Parents appreciate that there are many people in the neighborhood looking after them and making sure the environment is safe,” Ameie said. Especially these days when we hear a lot of reports of crimes involving children. “

Yurika Igarashi continued.

“Of course it’s fun to walk with the dogs,” she said. “But I also feel protected by them.”

Meanwhile, in the United States, police departments across the country are grappling with widespread budget cuts and racial disparities in police departments, largely as a result of the 2020 murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin.

Despite the tensions, similar efforts to introduce dogs to the community have been introduced to the United States on a much smaller scale, including the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio, which was the first of the ‘State to offer such a program, according to their website.

In their statement, the dog program “offers yet another innovative tool of assistance and community engagement to communities in Franklin County.”

Another program called Dog Walker Watch was created with the National Night Out campaign to “help local law enforcement agencies have extra eyes and ears while walking their dogs.”

Community initiatives have mushroomed in the United States, not only in light of police tensions, but due to an increasing rate of hate-motivated attacks. A California initiative is Compassion in Oakland, which has volunteers escorting the elderly in response to growing anti-Asian attacks.

“We must all come together if we hope to make it a safer community for years to come,” Chief Jacob Azevedo told CNN. A few days after the start of her Instagram campaign, hundreds of volunteers offered to help the Asian community feel safe by accompanying them home.

“I didn’t intend to be some sort of vigilante,” Azevedo said. “I just wanted to give people some kind of support. “

The Wan-Wan Patrol is also not a formal law enforcement initiative.

“Each owner walks whenever they can and asks their dog to wear the same scarf,” patrol leader Keiko Shimizu told AFP. “We can help make the neighborhood less vulnerable to crime. “

Recently one of the puppies found an elderly person after they passed away.

“They [the dog] achieved by noticing a room light always on in the morning, ”Shimizu said. “We walk around the same times on the same route every day, so it’s easier for us to notice if there is something unusual. “

Principal Ameie continued.

“I’m sure the kids can play outside of school and anywhere in the neighborhood because they know there are lots of adults looking out for them.

The Wan-Wan Patrol is showing all signs of being a lasting staple of the community.

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