MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - It's a unique hobby--and one that helps the community stay safe during the holidays.
A select group of individuals rides around and helps patrol for the Bibb County Sheriff's office.
It's REACT--the Radio Emergency Associated Communications Teams.
These guys use their own cars and gear to fuel their hobby--one that means a lot to the community.
They're not cops, but they're pretty close.
They're called Middle Georgia REACT and they act as the civilian eyes and ears for the Bibb County Sheriff's office.
"There have been a number of times we have stopped suspicious people they spotted at a store or something, and it may not have turned out that they were gonna commit an armed robbery, but, a lot of impaired drivers have been caught by them seeing things that just don't look right," said Lt. Brad Wolfe of the Bibb County Sheriff's Department. "We've made some drug cases on people that don't look right and we stopped because they were out there keeping an eye on things for us."
I had a chance to ride along with Robert Edwards, who is the treasurer for REACT, on one of his many patrols.
"We go out and our members are volunteers and they ride assigned sectors through the county, keeping an eye on the businesses--primarily convenience stores, liquor stores, retail establishments that are more likely to be targeted by people looking to commit an armed robbery."
Robert had a lot of stories to tell as we drove along--he's been in REACT for more than 40 years.
"...both of them crossed the street and shot and killed both of them," said Robert. "No indication if they got any money or not. I'm sure the investigators figured all that out or not, I just remember that that crime never was solved."
As the radio would chime in with different incidents, we would make our way there, and try to assist as much as possible.
Robert said helping catch criminals helps him give back to the community.
"During armed robbery patrol, I've actually been able to help in apprehending a couple of people who were suspected of committing armed robberies," said Robert. "The cases didn't make their way to trial--there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove that the person that was apprehended was the person who committed the crime, but it was nice to be able to help identify those people."
So they're not cops--but REACT members get to help keep the community a little safer.
I certainly felt like a policeman riding around with Robert.
If you like police scanners and tracking down criminals, you can get involved with REACT by checking out their website at Middle Georgia REACT.