BEND, Ore. - You may have seen them out on patrol across the High Desert. It's not law enforcement -- they're a private crime prevention company called Patrol Services International.
This company was started in Bend by a retired Sacramento police officer. With about 30 full-time employees, they're able to patrol the area around the clock. They work closely with local law enforcement, but aren't exactly the same.
"Our role is not to slap cuffs on people. We provide a service of crime prevention, and we do that very well," Nick Thompson, CEO of Patrol Services International, said Tuesday.
Thompson started the company eight years ago. With the help of former local police officers, he's been able to provide services to private entities like St. Charles-Bend.
"My idea was to incorporate their skills and training, and to give them another opportunity to be involved in the community and protecting the community on the private side," Thompson said.
Sometimes their work overlaps with law enforcement when they notice suspicious activity.
"They will call us, and we'll respond," said Bend police Lt. Kurt Koester. "We usually interact with them on scene, trying to figure out what it is specifically they saw and how we can help them help their customer."
They also help transporting mental health patients. While doing so, Thompson's nighttime patrol service officers wear uniforms, and are also armed.
"Why can't we look professional?" Thompson said. "Why can't we have good equipment? Why can't we pay officers well? That's what I thought we would do, and that's what we've done."
Those services came in handy a week and a half ago, when one of the patrol officers spotted a stolen car. That officer notified police, who were able to take the suspects into custody.
"They're definitely an asset," Koester said. "The more eyes and help you can have out there, the better, because our officers can't be everywhere at once."
They also provided security for Jenna Bush when she was in Central Oregon for her book signing. Along with being here in Oregon, the company now operates in Florida, Ohio and Georgia.