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SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. – When asked about the Sun City Center Security Patrol, Credit Union Times correspondent Eileen Courter frequently quotes the line from the movie Forrest Gump. Duty on the patrol, she says, “is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.” The biggest excitement may be asking the dispatcher to phone a resident at midnight and alert them their garage door is open. On the other hand, you may find yourself helping Hillsborough County deputy sheriffs direct traffic away from a major brush fire. Or you may be asked to search for an elderly resident with Alzheimer’s whose wife has phoned to report him missing. A victim of domestic violence may walk into the patrol office to ask for help. Several units may be sent to investigate a report a stolen golf cart has been spotted. “This community is built around golf courses, and golf carts are legal transportation throughout Sun City Center. So golf cart thieves are looked on as horse thieves were in the old west,” Courter says. Courter and her husband Paul joined the patrol shortly after they sold their snow shovels and moved to Sun City Center from Michigan in 2000. The Security Patrol’s 1,400 volunteers roam the community 24 hours a day responding to calls and remaining alert to problems. They use five marked radio-equipped vehicles with light bars. In the trunk are fire extinguishers, reflective safety vests, traffic control pylons and flares. Is the patrol effective? “The sheriff’s office has reported for years Sun City Center has the lowest crime rate in Hillsborough County, an area with more than 1 million people,” Courter answers. “Our most powerful weapon is our radio, which connects us to our dispatcher and the sheriff’s office.” After all, she notes, why tie up a sworn, trained deputy sheriff to put pylons on a flooded street and call the county road authorities? On the other hand, if it’s dark and that missing resident can’t be found, the sheriff can send a helicopter with a powerful searchlight to help. -

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